Man killed by downed power line in San Mateo

April 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man died after touching a live wire carrying 12,000 volts. It started when a mylar balloon got tangled in the high voltage lines. The man tried to pick up the power line, but before he knew what hit him, it was too late. It happened in San Mateo on South Norfolk Street.

PG&E initially told us that the cause of the line falling was because of a mylar balloon that hit the line, caused it to short, and then explode.

Lupe Fili Moehala-Latu and her family were stunned at about 6:30 Friday night when the lights went out.

"I heard three explosions," said Moehala-Latu.

The explosions were caused by a 12,000 power line coming down on the 1600 block of South Norfolk Street. The culprit according to PG&E was a mylar balloon.

"I looked down the street and there were flashing lights coming up and the fire started and it was just the power lights, the wires that were coming down," said Moehala-Latu.

The fallen transmission line also caused a fire when it landed on the lawn of a home and it burned itself into the sidewalk.

A man in a white pick-up truck went out to investigate the fallen and sparking line according to neighbors.

"What I heard, because I didn't see it myself, is that he actually tried to move the power line... And the boys were running over there, they asked him not to. They started screaming to him saying, 'Don't touch it, don't move anything,' but it was too late, he had already touched it," said Moehala-Latu.

Moehala-Latu called 911. She says the man was not moving when the paramedics took him away. We saw pieces of concrete sidewalk that were turned to glass by the extreme heat when the power line hit the ground.

PG&E crews say about 73 homes were left without power when the line went down. The victim who has not been identified, died Friday night at Stanford Hospital. PG&E said late Friday night that they will not confirm that the cause was a mylar balloon and it's still under investigation. PG&E said they did not know when the power would be returned.


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