Man shocked by more than 12,000 volts after accidental contact with power line

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jul 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-20 23:19:01-04

MURRAY, Utah – Officials said a man is lucky to be alive after he was shocked by more than 12,000 volts of electricity during an accident in his own backyard.

The man is currently in a hospital in stable condition, but he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse when paramedics arrived on scene Saturday around 7:30 p.m.

Clinton Gaipher, 62, was putting netting over an apple tree to keep birds away when the aluminum pole he was using to apply the netting made contact with a power line. Officials said the man was struck by 12,480 volts and was thrown about 10 feet.

Bystanders began performing CPR until emergency responders arrived to take over, and the man was taken to Intermountain Medical Center.

Mike Dykman, a battalion chief with the Murray Fire Department, said the man may face long-term issues due to the shock.

“There was damage to his feet, where the voltage left his body, so I imagine it went through his hands, exited out his feet,” he said. “So he did have some burns. Long-term, it’s going to be difficult to say how his recovery will be. That voltage travels through your vascular system, through your lymphatic system, there could be some definite, long-term negative effects from that.”

Dykman said Gaipher was only wearing socks on his feet, which may have helped in this particular case.

"Because there is not a lot of resistance, the voltage current goes through him very quickly and that may help minimize some of the damage," Dykman said.

Dykman said this sort of accident is rare, and he’s only seen four or five such cases in his 25 years with the department. He said people should always exercise caution when working near power lines.

The man’s family told FOX 13 News’ Robert Boyd over the phone that the man cannot yet communicate verbally but is communicating via hand gestures. They said his condition has improved since Saturday night.