Mystery surrounds a man who survived electrocution, fire, and an 80-foot fall in Santa Rosa

- In the North Bay, mystery surrounds a man who survived electrocution, fire, and an 80 foot fall.

For reasons authorities can't fathom, he climbed a high voltage transmission tower Tuesday afternoon in the West End neighborhood of Santa Rosa.

Wednesday, the assistant fire marshal was back at the scene on W. 6th Street, piecing togther what happened.

"There's a reason, when we respond to fires, we have power turned off, because we understand the dangers," Paul Lowenthal told KTVU.

Lowenthal was talking to witnesses about the unidentified man's ascent of the 100 foot tower, which sits along a popular walking path.

"I heard this boom and about a minute later, I heard the screams," property caretaker Kevin Pickering told KTVU, "so I ran to the fence, and he dropped on the ground right in front of me."
Pickering pulled the man off the grass, which had caught fire.

"I was hesitant to move him because of the bad fall he just took but I wanted to get him out of harm's way".
Two electricians working at an adjacent dance studio also heard the explosion and saw the horrific sight.

"He was screaming and you could see it was like he was trying to get himself off the lines," described Dave Secchintano, "because at first he was unconscious, then he came to, and it looked like he was getting shocked some more."

No one apparently saw the man on the transmission tower, until he came in contact with 115,000 volts of electricity.

"We just know he is in grave condition and our goal here is to figure out who he is and notify next of kin," Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Jeneane Kucker told KTVU.

The man is described only as Latino, in his mid to late twenties. He had no companions or property with him, as far as anyone knows. He is being treated at the U.C. Davis Medical Center Burn Unit, and is heavily sedated, and unable to communicate.

"It would be nice to have family members present obviously, if he doesn't live through his ordeal," added Sgt. Kucker, "but as for why he did this? We don't know, it's a good question."   

It's a question police and PG&E have asked before.

On one side of the tower, there is barbed wire, but on the side facing the public path, the fences are lower.
At least three other people have climbed the tower since last summer.

One of them even left a rocking chair at the very top, which blew down in the wind and splintered. 
But those stunts didn't end in critical injury, like the latest one.

"It's not the first time and one time is too many," declared Lowenthal. "This incident is exactly why there are warning signs and  barriers to prevent people from climbing." 

Since the most recent trespass in March, PG&E has added more jagged metal spikes to the base of the tower, to make it more difficult to climb. 

Most people on the Prince Memorial Greenway path are aghast at the idea anyone would risk such danger.
"Wow, that is unbelievable, I just can't imagine, that's crazy," said passerby Sarah Hadler.

Those who saw the incident say it remains unbelievable and haunting.

"It's terrible, and I can't get it off my mind," admitted Pickering.

For the electricians, who know well the hazards of electric shock, it was especially sobering.

"I've seen arc flash videos in the electrical trade, but to see it for yourself live like that, was just horrible," said Secchintano.

Anyone in the area who may know the man's identity, or has a family member missing since Tuesday afternoon, should call Santa Rosa Police at (707) 543- 5019.

 

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