Duke Energy officials are investigating the death of one worker, and injury of another, after a utility pole broke and fell onto both men.
The accident happened at 12:41 p.m. Thursday near the corner of Mason Morrow Millgrove and Stubbs Mill roads, southeast of Lebanon and outside Morrow.
Keith Jester, 43, of Hamilton, died Thursday after the utility pole he had been climbing broke and fell on top of him, officials said.
A man identified on a 911 recording as a Duke Energy worker told emergency dispatchers a utility pole fell and hit two workers that had been climbing up the pole. The caller said the men were about 20 feet above the ground.
“They hit the ground first, pole hits them and knocks their breath out,” the 911 caller said. “They’re out of breath right now, the pole came down on them.”
Jester was flown to Bethesda Arrow Springs in Lebanon where he later died. An autopsy is being performed today by the Warren County Coroner.
The second worker was flown to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, said Sally Thelen, Duke Energy spokeswoman. Thelen declined to release the man’s identity, only describing his injuries as non life-threatening.
“Duke Energy extends its deepest sympathies to our fallen colleague and his family, friends and co-workers,” Thelen said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our injured employee as well and his family.”
Jester was a 13-year veteran of Duke Energy, most recently working as a senior lineperson out of a district office in Fairfield, according to Thelen. She said it was a “typical work day” before the pole broke on Thursday, but couldn’t say what specific work was being completed.
Jester is survived by a wife and three children, according to our news partner WCPO. The family recently lost a child in September, a boy who died in his sleep, WCPO reports.
Thelen said an internal investigation is being conducted by Duke Energy, in cooperation with local fire and law enforcement agencies.
“It’s too early to speculate what caused the pole to fall and break,” Thelen said. “It’s a lengthy process; we look at all aspects … weather, materials, personnel. It’s not a quick review.”
Thelen said this is Duke Energy’s first fatal accident of the year. She said there’s “high probability” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be involved in an investigation into the incident.
“It’s an extremely rare type of situation,” Thelen said of the fatal fall.
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