EDGEWORTH — A Raccoon Township man died after being shocked by a power line Wednesday while trimming a tree in Edgeworth.
Chester Sipes, 47, was working in a D.L.S. Tree Service bucket truck about 1:55 p.m. in the front yard of 411 Chestnut Road, across the street from Edgeworth Elementary School, when he backed into a high-voltage power line, authorities said.
Edgeworth Police Chief John English was on his way to the police station and was about a block away from the house when he saw sparks fly into the air followed by a “flash of light,” he said.
English and two other D.L.S. employees on the ground immediately called for emergency responders, but it took crews about 10 minutes to lower the bucket because the truck’s electronic controls were destroyed.
“You have a helpless feeling because there was no way to get him down,” English said. “It was very sad to watch.”
Sipes was alive while still inside the bucket, English said, but was in “extremely bad condition.”
Sipes was taken by ambulance to Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead around 2:30 p.m., the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning.
English said power to neighboring homes and businesses was not affected, though some reported lights flickered inside the elementary school.
Quaker Valley School District officials said counselors were brought in to assist elementary teachers and pupils who may have witnessed the incident from inside the building.
Director of Administrative Services Joseph Marrone said the district redirected parents and buses to the front of the school during the afternoon pickup times in order to keep students away from the area.
“Everybody cooperated and everybody was calm,” Marrone said.
In a letter sent out electronically and posted on the district’s website, officials said that counselors will continue to be available for children or adults who may need emotional support in the coming days.
Duquesne Light Co. crews arrived shortly after the incident and repaired the severed wire, which English said carries 13,200 volts of electricity.
Allegheny County police detectives and federal Occupational Safety and Heath Administration investigators also were on the scene for several hours Wednesday afternoon investigating the incident.