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October 21, 2011

Samaritans restore breathing to eloctrocuted Calif. man

By Greg Welter
Chico Enterprise-Record

ORLAND, Calif. — A construction worker severely shocked Wednesday in an accident at C.K. Price Middle School remains at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, but his condition was upgraded Thursday afternoon from critical to fair.

According to Orland police, Mark Godfrey Jr., 23, was standing beside a forklift being operated by his father, Mark Godfrey, 50, and holding onto a pole his father was attempting to move with the machine.

When the forklift came into contact with 12,000-volt wires, the younger Godfrey was knocked to the ground and the forklift tires caught fire.

A fellow worker, Scott Gully, 40, was shocked when he threw a pail of water on the tires in an attempt to put out the flames.

Willy Kendrick, 64, an employee with the Orland Unit Water Users Association, happened to be passing the school and said he saw a puff of smoke come up from the forklift, then saw the flames. He said a man was being dragged from underneath the forklift, and he stopped to see if he could help.

Kendrick, a retired firefighter from Benecia, said he recognized immediately that the victim was in extreme distress.

"The first thing we did was manage his airway, because he was barely breathing," Kendrick said. "He began to go downhill fast."

As Kendrick and Godfrey's father took turns giving the victim mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Orland police officer Kyle Cessna began chest compressions.

Kendrick said the victim was muscular and his body may have tensed up due to the shock. He said he didn't have the strength to effectively administer chest compressions and turned that effort over to Cessna. "The officer knew exactly what to do," Kendrick said.

He said all their efforts together likely saved Godfrey's life, but he gives most of the credit to Cessna.

He said he hopes talking about the near-tragedy will encourage people to learn CPR.

Orland volunteer firefighters and an ambulance crew arrived after several minutes and took over lifesaving efforts. By the time Godfrey was ready for transport to Enloe Medical Center, Kendrick said he was breathing on his own. He also said he appeared to have possible burn injuries from the shock.

Godfrey was stabilized at Enloe and transported by helicopter to Sacramento.

Gully was treated at the scene and released.

The crew involved in the incident works for United Ironworks of Oroville.

Due to an in-service day at the school, most of the students had already left before the accident occurred, around 1:30 p.m.

A PG&E crew was called in to cut power to the lines and safely remove the forklift. The school and about a half-dozen homes in the area were without power from 2:30 p.m. to about 7 p.m., said PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno.

PG&E also examined the high-voltage lines for damage.

The incident is considered an industrial accident, and Orland police said they contacted CalOSHA to begin an investigation.

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