Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Minnetonka dies - KMSP-TV

Tree trimmer shocked by power line in Minnetonka dies

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A coworker on the ground says a cut branch touched the line and delivered a 20-second shock. A coworker on the ground says a cut branch touched the line and delivered a 20-second shock.
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Emergency crews line the street, down the block from where a tree trimmer was shocked Emergency crews line the street, down the block from where a tree trimmer was shocked
MINNETONKA, Minn. (KMSP) -

A tree trimmer was shocked and left hanging unconscious in Minnetonka, Minn., on Wednesday after a small branch came into contact with the power line. A coworker told Fox 9 the branch carried the electricity, shocking the 21-year-old man for about 20 seconds before the branch fell and severed the electrical connection.

"He was cutting the tree and he was up by the high lines and he cut one of the suckers," coworker Andrew Witucki recalled. "It tipped over, touched the high line, started electrocuting him."

The tree trimmer was left dangling from his safety equipment for about an hour as Minnetonka firefighters waited for high-angle rescue equipment to arrive. The man's coworker told Fox 9 News he and other staff members tried to free the trimmer from his harness, but it was too heavy to do safely.

"He just locked up. There was nothing we could do," Witucki continued. "I grabbed the pole, tried to throw it up there to knock the line down, but he was 50 feet up in the tree, and there was nothing we could do. Just kept shocking him for a good 20 seconds, and then burned through the branch. The branch fell and he fell over upside down."

Witucki said the company's owner also climbed the tree to rescue his employee, but found he was too heavy to remove from his safety harness above ground. That meant the rescue had to wait for specialty high-angle rescue crews to arrive from Edina and Richfield.

"He had a cabling device up there that we had to cut him out of," Minnetonka Fire Chief John Vance explained. "There were some things that complicated the rescue, making us not able to immediately free him from his position."

A firefighter on a truck ladder eventually cut the worker loose and lowered him to the ground. Paramedics found he had a slight pulse and rushed him to Hennepin County Medical Center while Witucki was left stunned by the "overwhelming" scene, telling Fox 9 News his friend left with "a hole in this leg from the electricity."

"He loved his job, loved trimming trees," Witucki reflected on the friend he grew up with in the Little Falls area. "He was working with another company and recently quit and began working with us. He's taken down 100 trees next to the power line and never had anything like that happen to him before."

Fox 9 News confirmed the worker later died of his injuries. His identity has not been publicly released.



The crew was removing a rotten tree from Scott Truax's property on Townline Road because he feared that a storm could bring it down, and the power line with it.

"It was way too close to the power lines," Truax explained. "Afraid it would come down in a storm, take the power out. Get it before it happened."

When the accident was reported at about 1 p.m.,  power was knocked out to homes and businesses within one square mile; however, it was restored at about 5 p.m.

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