Deputies: Tree trimmer in bucket truck electrocuted

PCSO: 53-year-old working alone when he came in contact with power lines

CRESCENT CITY, Fla. – A tree trimmer in a bucket truck died Friday afternoon after the electric saw he was using came in contact with a power line in Crescent City, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

The 53-year-old man, who was a self-employed as lawn care worker, had rented a "genie lift" bucket truck and was working alone along Pique Road, near North Shore Lane, when it appears he was electrocuted, deputies said.

"He was known by many of the neighbors as a handyman and yard man. He worked for a lot of people on this street. He was working for the neighbors in one of these trees and at some point his saw made contact with these power lines," PCSO Cpt. Joseph Wells said. 

Eloisa Otero, who lives across the street, said she heard a loud "boom" outside her home as the lights flickered and she immediately ran outside. She said it was a gut-wrenching feeling to see what was unfolding.

"He tried to get up and then the line, when he went up, he touched the cable again and then he just went down again," Otero said. "It was desperate. I felt like I wanted to climb and do something, but you can't."

When deputies and rescue personnel arrived about 3:20 p.m., the man was still elevated in the bucket of a hydraulic lift.

Florida Power and Light was called and shut off electricity to the line about 30 minutes later. Deputies said they then lowered the bucket lift and found the man dead inside. 

"We were advised by FPL that it carried 7,200 volts of electricity," Wells said of the power line.

The man's name will not be released until his family is notified. But Otero said he was a kind man who gave back to the community.

"He volunteers, I know, for the Methodist church. He cooks breakfast there every morning," Otero said. "He's such a nice man, so it's so sad. We're going to miss him here."

Neighbor Charlotte Garrison said his death has saddened the entire community in southeast Putnam County. 

"It's horrible. It's so tragic. I'm still trying to, kind of, you know, digest it," Garrison said. 

The Medical Examiner's Office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were notified. The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the death.