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May 2013
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CityLink Seattle

Fatal Contact with High Voltage Line



At 12:20 a.m. a person climbing a Seattle City Light Transmission tower near 3rd Ave. NW and NW Leary Way came in contact with the 120 kilovolt line. Seattle City Light, Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Police all responded to the site after an initial report of a fire.

Police on scene said witnesses told them a man was seen climbing the tower and they saw a large flash and an explosion. This would be consistent with an object causing a short circuit on a high voltage line. The tower is 200 feet tall, and the man was seen to fall to a platform on the tower’s 150 ft. level. Police determined that the man was dead.

Seattle City Light crews rerouted power and then de-energized all the circuits on the tower, so fire rescue could safely recover the body. Only one customer lost power during this period. City Light crews found no evidence of damage to the tower or the high voltage line.

Seattle City Light is reviewing how an unauthorized person could climb the tower. There are no ladders on the tower near the ground level. Police are investigating this as a trespass and accidental death.

Power was restored at 7 a.m. to the customer that lost power during the recovery operation.