Two die trying to save electrocuted crane operator

Friday, August 22, 2003

TELFORD, Pa. -- A crane operator was electrocuted and two co-workers died trying to save him Thursday after the crane struck an overhead power line at a concrete plant.

As electricity coursed through the rig, one of the rescuers began administering CPR. But the second worker touched the still-electrified crane, sending a deadly jolt through all three men, authorities said.

"He put his hand on his shoulder, and he steadied himself on the crane, and that's when they all got it," Police Chief Douglas Bickel said.

Terrified co-workers stood by until the live wire was shut off, said George Strickland, general manager of the JDM Materials plant where the accident took place.

"It seemed like an eternity. I don't know how long it actually took," Strickland said.

While they waited, the crane became so hot with live power that it caught fire.

The crane was left a smoking ruin. A 7,200-volt electrical line remained draped over its boom hours after the disaster in Telford, in suburban Philadelphia.

Witnesses said the crane was backing up when it ran into the wires, Strickland said.

Authorities did not immediately release the victims' names. Strickland said the three worked for a company that had been hired to demolish an old structure at the plant.

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