Tree trimmer electrocuted by high-tension line

A man who died after being electrocuted by power lines while trimming a tree Monday afternoon in San Jose was not a PG&E employee, a company spokeswoman confirmed.

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the deceased as well as his friends and family. Preliminary investigation shows that the man was not a PG&E contractor.”

Sarkissian also said that PG&E shut off the electricity so that law enforcement could work at the scene.

As of about 5 p.m., 953 people were without power and, Sarkissian said, power would be restored once the investigation into the electrocution is complete.

The electrocution was first reported at 1:38 p.m. after neighbors on Page Mill Drive said a tree trimmer appeared to be stuck and could not get down, Fire Capt. Daniel Vega said.

When fire crews arrived on scene, they realized that the man had been continuously electrocuted for an extended period of time when he cut a branch that hit a high-tension power line, according to Vega. Both the tree and his body were emitting smoke.

Vega said the fire department is still working to figure out the exact cause of the fatality, but he said that today’s wind and rain conditions may have sparked enough energy to electrocute the man.

PG&E crews worked to determine whether it was safe for fire crews to begin setting up a rigging system in order to get the man’s body down from the tree, Vega said.

Adjacent homes were evacuated since the fire department did not know whether the electricity had been turned off. The five closest homes on either side of the tree were ordered to shelter in place to protect themselves from any electricity risk, Vega said.

According to Sarkissian, PG&E is urging residents to always be aware of their surroundings and to stay at least 10 feet away from power lines if possible and to never touch lines with tools or body parts.

Additionally, residents should never climb towers, utility poles or trees that surround power lines.

Residents should also never try to fish anything from power lines such as kites or Mylar balloons and instead call PG&E.