ARRL

News

Kansas Ham, Son, Electrocuted While Erecting Antennas

07/15/2008

While putting up backyard antennas on the afternoon of Sunday, July 13, Edward Thomas, KC0TIG, of Kansas City, Kansas, and his son were electrocuted. The elder Thomas, 65, was pronounced dead at the scene. His son, 27, was rushed to the hospital but died later that day. Initial reports suggest that the antenna they were installing came in contact with 7620 V power lines. Neighbors reported a "loud popping sound" and the electricity went out on the block.

Jacob's 7 year old daughter witnessed the tragedy and ran to the neighbor's yard, calling for help. Byron Kirkwood and another neighbor attempted to perform CPR on the men; the neighbor also called 911.

Robert Mullendore, a spokesman for the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities (KCBPU), was quoted by Kansas City television station KSBH as saying it is rare to survive a shock as strong as the two men received: "There are people who will survive -- they're lucky by the grace of God, it's high energy, it's dangerous, that's why it's up in the air -- you just have to be careful. Even those who survive have pretty wicked wounds and they are lifelong wounds." In the power business for more than 30 years, the spokesman said these accidents are "really rare," saying that he only sees something like this "every two or three years. If you're doing any kind of work like this, you just really, really need to be aware of your surroundings."

Chuck Kraly, K0XM, used to work for KCBPU; he built and maintained the substation that fed the circuit going to the Thomas home: "This is nothing to take chances with. In my almost 30 years as a ham -- and 27 years in the power utility field -- I have seen way too many 'accidents.' Stop and look. If it is close or seems that way -- don't. Find another place. High voltage lines are not forgiving. Your life depends on it. Please follow the warnings. Anywhere close is too close." -- Thanks to Larry Staples, W0AIB, and others who contributed to this story



Back