A New Jersey painter working on a high-voltage transmission tower was electrocuted and fell 70 feet to his death, striking his partner below him and knocking him to the ground as well, authorities said.
The second painter, who fell 50 feet, was critically injured.
Neither painter was wearing a harness, police said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was investigating the accident, which occurred Thursday (Oct. 25) in Edison, NJ.
Transmission Tower Painting
The accident occurred about noon on a tower owned by PSE&G (Public Service Electric and Gas Company) along Route 1. The utility serves nearly three-quarters of New Jersey.
The painters worked for PSE&G subcontractor Tower Maintenance Corp., which describes itself as a unionized, woman-owned and -managed industrial painting and lead removal contractor based in New York.
Truthanado / Wikimedia Commons
One painter fell from 70 feet up, knocking off his partner 20 feet below.
The company lists multiple certifications and training on its website and says it has completed projects for numerous public authorities and utilities.
“Tower Maintenance personnel are trained for specialized field work requiring substantial experience,” the site says.
The company could not be reached for comment Tuesday (Oct. 30). Phone service was disrupted throughout the Northeast, due to Hurricane Sandy.
The painters’ names were not immediately available.
Edison Police Lt. Sal Filannino said that one painter had been working 70 feet up on the tower when he inadvertently came in contact with a live, 26,000-volt wire.
The painter fell, striking his partner, who was working 20 feet below, Filannino said. Both painters fell the rest of the way to the ground.
Route 1 was shut down for 45 minutes in both directions as Medevac helicopters landed in an adjacent Home Depot parking lot to airlift the painters to local hospitals.
The electrocuted painter was later pronounced dead at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison; the other was being treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Edison.
Robert Wood Johnson had no update on the painter’s condition Tuesday.
"PSE&G responded to the location and is working with local police and fire officials to determine how the accident occurred," a PSE&G spokeswoman said in a statement.