Man dies while hanging Christmas lights

A man hanging Christmas decorations in a redwood tree in East Palo Alto Saturday was killed instantly when a string of lights touched two high-tension power lines, according to officials.

Police received a call through a Spanish translator at about 12:20 p.m. reporting a man hanging in a tree at 2012 Euclid Ave., Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

The 23-year-old man was reportedly in a ladder stringing lights in trees for Page Mill Properties, which owns apartments in the area, Schapelhouman said.

The man reportedly threw the lights to reach higher into the tree when they touched two different legs of a high-tension power line, sending 12,000 kilovolts of electricity through the man's body.

Electricity apparently traveled through the man's arm and out through an area near his knee into the tree, Schapelhouman said.

Fire crews arrived to find the man hanging about 60 feet from the ground, apparently fused to the tree by electricity, and smoking from his feet, Schapelhouman said.

Firefighters could not immediately rescue the victim because the power lines had not been deactivated, Schapelhouman said.

The man hung from the tree until Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews arrived at about 12:54 p.m. and turned off the power lines, Schapelhouman said.

Firefighters had the victim down from the tree at about 2 p.m. and the San Mateo County coroner's office pronounced him officially deceased, according to Schapelhouman.

The victim has been identified, but his name is not being released, according to the coroner's office.

"This is a young man and nobody wants this type of thing during the holidays. He was just trying to make things brighter in East Palo Alto," Schapelhouman said.

— Bay City News Service


Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 16, 2007 at 8:04 am

God rest his soul.

The "reporter" was very callous in his choice to include gory details. It is completely unnecessary!

"smoking feet" "fused"

Come on!! What's wrong with you??? Hopefully you'll get fired.

Posted by Been Gone Awhile, a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2007 at 8:51 pm

The details may be "gory" but are accurate and help capture attention so this kind of avoidable tragedy is not repeated.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 25, 2007 at 8:13 am

Been Gone,

It is still unnecessary. "Smoking feet" adds absolutely no value to the story. Yes, people should be very careful around power lines. The property company may very well be culpable if they knowingly put this man's life at risk.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Indian street food and ... bitcoins?
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 3,069 views

Most Seniors do not Need Senior Housing But Could Benefit from other Choice to Remain in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 27 comments | 1,177 views

I Spy
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 949 views

Life, Death and Rails
By Paul Bendix | 3 comments | 761 views

Live! Menlo Park’s New Website
By Erin Glanville | 9 comments | 669 views