An employee of a firm hired as a subcontractor ComEd was badly injured after falling about 40 feet while crews were attempting to install the top section of a utility pole about 2:10 p.m., April 14 on 16th Street between Hannah and Circle avenues.
The victim, identified only as a35-year-old man, was in a cherry picker as crews were attempting to connect the top section of a metal utility pole to the base, Police Chief Tom Aftanas said. As it was being lifted, the top section of the pole fell away and hit live power lines causing a wood utility pole to snap and setting off a chain reaction that caused a second wood utility pole to fall.
As the wires and poles fell, a worker in the basket of a second cherry picker was knocked out of the basket and plummeted about 40 feet to the ground, Aftanas said.
“It just happened extremely quickly,” Aftanas said. “The only lucky thing was that the worker landed in a grassy area, which probably saved him.”
Aftanas said the live power lines that fell in the area set grass on fire, but the lines fell away from the injured worker and from other workers at the scene. No other injuries were reported.
“It was very bad,” Aftanas said. “But it could have been so much worse.”
The Forest Park Fire Department responded to the scene and the injured worker was transported to Loyola University Medical Center by North Riverside emergency personnel.
A spokeswoman for ComEd said she could not give information on the status of the injured worker and provided a written statement from the utility company. The company hired by ComEd as asubcontractor to do the work was New Jersey-based Riggs Distler, according to the police report obtained by the Forest Park Review.
“We are currently working with local authorities to understand what occurred and ensure the area is safe,” the statement read. “Safety is ComEd’s number one priority and our thoughts are with the worker who was involved in the incident.”
About 2,000 customers lost power after the incident. The spokeswoman for ComEd said all outages related to Thursday’s incident have been resolved. She said she could not comment on why poles in the area were being replaced.
This story has been changed to clarify who the victim worked for. The victim was an employee of a subcontractor hired by ComEd.