Utah man fighting to recover 8 months after electrical shock that killed coworker

Posted at 9:05 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 23:37:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Nearly eight months after barely surviving a freak accident that killed his coworker and injured another, a Salt Lake Valley man is almost ready to go home, but the family is facing some challenges in getting him there.

At the University of Utah Hospital Wednesday evening, 5-month-old Remington sits in her dad's lap, making lots of noise as she discovers her voice.

"Ba ba ba, you talking to daddy?" Mom Tanna Orullian asks.

Her dad is also discovering his voice. Keith Mortensen is slowly starting to speak again, but, for now, he slowly types on an iPad to communicate with his family.

"He says, 'I just want a place to call home,'" Orullian said, reading off the tablet.

The 28-year-old dad has called the hospital his home since last August, when he was electrically shocked after a ladder fell onto a power line at work.

His coworker, Aaron Garn, died and another man was hospitalized.

Orullian said doctors weren't sure what would happen with Mortensen. At first, he was in a coma and they knew he suffered brain injuries.

"We didn't know that he was going to live or die," Mortensen's cousin, Karrie Smith, said. "That was pretty scary."

When his eyes did open, his family didn't know if the real Keith was still inside. They didn't know if he'd remember he had a family, and a daughter on the way. They didn't know if he'd understand what happened to him, or if he'd recover.

"They... came in and told us that the part of the brain that's damaged is going to be almost impossible for him to be the same person he was before," Orullian said.

But when they look into his eyes now, his family can see Keith's soul survived. And on the outside, he's making progress.

"He's sitting up... scooting himself a little," Orullian said.

She also said he's starting to talk a little bit and has improved far beyond what doctors first thought might be possible.

Mortensen now jokes: "I am Superman."

Orullian, reading from the iPad, adds with a laugh: "He is to us. He's our Superman."

He and Orullian still plan on getting married. She hopes Mortensen will continue to improve as they raise their two daughters.

For now, they're focused on getting this hero home.

The family said they're having a hard time finding housing that will accommodate Mortensen. Orullian said they also need a handicap accessible vehicle, but they don't have the means to purchase one.

She said they are also in need of furniture and other items.

Family members have set up a GoFundMe page to help with Mortensen's transition home.

Those interested in helping can also email