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Nov-12-2007 18:18printcomments

Canby Couple Trapped in Truck Snagged by Downed Live Wire

The people in the truck stayed inside until safely freed from the live wire.

This PGE technician freed the vehicle, only to learn that his aunt was one of the people inside the vehicle.  Photo courtesy:
This PGE technician freed the vehicle, only to learn that his aunt was one of the people inside the vehicle. Photo courtesy: Troy Buzalsky/Canby Fire

(CANBY, Ore.) - A couple trapped in the cab of their pickup did the right thing today, after it became entangled in a downed power line. They stayed inside the vehicle until emergency crews safely freed them, and were not injured.

Around 11:45 AM, as extreme windy conditions across Western Oregon knocked out power for thousands, Canby Fire received a call to an electrical wire that had been knocked down in the wind-storm and had started a small brush fire.

Fire Spokesman Troy Buzalsky says they responded to the intersection of South New Era Road and South Central Point Road in Canby. What they found was potentially deadly for anyone who came too close.

"The power line was still arcing at the time of the dispatch. While enroute dispatchers were updated that a vehicle had driven by the downed wire and was now wrapped in the energized power line."

He says that when fire crews arrived, they found two occupants still sitting in the mini-pickup they were driving. They were told to stay in the pickup and wait for PGE to arrive and assure the power was out.

"Although PGE's estimated time of arrival was typically two hours during the storm, they expedited their response because of the victims still literally trapped in their vehicle," Buzaksky said.

Having spent most of my adult working life in TV news, I've attended many training sessions about what to do if your TV live van's mast, which raises and lowers at the push of a button, ever makes contact with power lines.

As in the case of this wise couple in Canby, a TV news crew stays inside the vehicle until freed by electrical technicians.

Even if a vehicle is fully charged with a live wire, the people inside remain safe because the vehicle's tires provide insulation. Eventually they will blow, but it takes quite a while.

"Once PGE arrived they quickly cut the still live wire free from the vehicles and then went the extra mile and cut free the wire mess that was tangled under the pickup's axle and suspension."

Buzalsky says the couple and one of the technicians received an unexpected surprise after the crews cut the wires loose.

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"Just before the PGE personnel cleared the scene the technician who freed the entangled wire poked his head in the pickup to tell the two occupants they were free to go, only to find out it was his aunt… 'aunt Connie.'"

With today's wind storm, experts like Troy Buzaksly say this story serves as a great reminder that if you are ever in a motor vehicle and a power line falls or comes in touch with your vehicle, stay in your car unless your car catches fire or there is some other life and death reason to leave the vehicle.

"If you must leave the vehicle jump and far as possible from the vehicle and energized wire, and never make contact with the vehicle and the ground at the same time."




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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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