Thursday, May 23, 2013
The owner of a paving company in York was electrocuted Wednesday when he touched a dump truck whose raised bed had come into contact with power lines overhead.
Police identified the victim as Christopher Dixon, 42, of York, the owner of Atlantic Paving Co.
Dixon's co-worker, a 38-year-old woman from York who was not identified by police, was not injured in the accident.
An inspector from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is expected to arrive Thursday to investigate the circumstances of Dixon's death, which occurred while he and his co-worker paved a driveway.
"It's just a tragic accident," said York police Sgt. Thomas Baran, who was among the first emergency responders at the scene on Red Berry Lane, a narrow, tree-lined road off Route 1.
Police said they got a 911 call at 2:23 p.m. notifying them that Dixon had been electrocuted when he touched the dump truck, which had just emptied a load of hot asphalt onto a private driveway.
Police were told that the raised bed of the truck had come into contact with overhead electrical wires. "It energized the entire truck," Baran said.
Baran said Dixon's co-worker, who was driving the truck, felt a surge of electricity and got out.
When she did, she saw Dixon, who had been locking the truck's tailgate, lying on the ground. The truck's tires were on fire, Baran said.
The driver ran to a nearby store, Woods to Goods, where she asked the owner, J.D. Maloney, to call 911 for help.
"When we arrived, the scene was not safe," Baran said. "If we had touched him, we could have been electrocuted."
The town contacted Central Maine Power Co., which shut down the area's electrical circuit from its offices in Augusta. About 2,270 customers near York Beach, Mount Agamenticus and Shore Road were without power for a brief period.
Baran said a firefighter, wearing rubber boots, moved Dixon away from the burning truck, but emergency crews decided to wait for CMP crews to arrive before going near the vehicle and tending to Dixon.
Baran said the ground near the truck and Dixon could have been charged with electricity, putting rescue workers at risk of being electrocuted.
Dixon was later taken to York Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:10 p.m.
CMP spokesman John Carroll said the rescue workers, who are trained for such situations, took all of the necessary precautions.
He said the company employs three electrical safety trainers, who travel statewide to educate contractors, public safety agencies and others about the dangers of coming into contact with power lines.
Carroll said it probably would have been safer for Dixon's co-worker to stay in the truck.
"If you come into contact with a live wire, the safest thing to do is to stay in the vehicle," he said. "As long as you are in the vehicle, the current will flow around you.
"But the moment you touch the vehicle and the ground (as Dixon was doing) your body becomes a path for the electrical current," Carroll said.
He also said that shutting down a power circuit remotely is not a guarantee against electrocution.
CMP doesn't consider a scene safe until electrical systems on both sides of the street have been grounded manually by its workers.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: