18-year-old lineman 'critical' after being shocked in Orange Park

Fiber optic line gets away from crew, hits power line, police say

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A lineman is in critical condition after he was shocked while working Monday outside a strip mall on U.S. 17, the Orange Park Police Department said.

Police and the Orange Park Fire Department responded just after 5:30 p.m. to an industrial accident on U.S. 17, which is also known as Park Avenue, near Stiles Avenue.

Police said 18-year-old John Bowman, a lineman working for Fiber Com Connect, was shocked while laying fiber optic line under the roadway for public utilities. He was sending the line through a conduit with compressed air.

The line was going to a crew at U.S. 17 and Stiles Avenue, but the line got away from them for several hundred feet and then snaked up into the air about 75 feet, coming in contact with a power line. Two transformers exploded, bringing wires down, blocking all lanes of U.S. 17 and causing hundreds of people to lose electricity.

The three other crewmen who had been trying to control the fiber line started running, but Bowman, who had been holding the line when it hit the wires, collapsed after he was shocked.

Several people ran to help, including Jennifer McGuirt, who was working at a car wash nearby.

"I looked back and noticed the transformer blew again. I walked over, and this guy was laying on the ground," McGuirt told News4Jax on Tuesday. "“I took his glasses off and his eyes rolled to the back of his head. He had no pulse, so a guy started giving him CPR. He finally got a pulse. Then, a trauma nurse came in and she was checking his pulse but he lost it again. The ambulance came and gave him a shock.”

Bowman went into cardiac arrest, but was revived at the scene and was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, the Fire Department said.

He was later transferred to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville. At last check, he was in critical condition, police said. 

The road was closed for nearly two hours as crews worked to clear the live power lines. Shortly after, power was restored to the area.

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