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Tree Trimmer Electrocuted By Power Line In Minnetonka

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(credit: CBS) Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson joined the WCCO-TV team in May 2014. You can find h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A power line electrocuted a man Wednesday afternoon while he was trimming trees in Minnetonka, Minn.

Travis Sutherland, 21, of St. Cloud, died of electrocution on Wednesday, June 25.

It happened just after 1 p.m. on Townline Road. Sutherland, who is an employee of a tree trimming company out of Little Falls, was about 30 feet high when he hit a power line.

Co-worker Andrew Witucki says Sutherland began to cut a smaller branch when it hit the nearby power line, and shocked him.

“When he cut it, it was so close to the line it tipped over and hit the hot wire and electrocuted him. It kept electrocuting him for about 20 seconds until it burned through the branch, and the branch fell and he was locked up tight while it electrocuted him,” Witucki said. “And once it was done electrocuting him, he fell forward. He was hanging upside down.”

A co-worker used spikes to race up the tree to try to pull him down, but was unsuccessful. Sutherland was connected to the tree with a cable and a carabineer.

Minnetonka and Edina fire departments responded.

John Vance, the chief of the Minnetonka Fire Department, says the Sutherland’s cable complicated the rescue and kept him from being immediately freed. High angle rescue teams from Edina and Richfield had to be called in for help.

“The tree was in the process of being cut down,” Vance said, “and so the tree already had several cuts in it…so it put our rescuers in a perilous situation.”

A firefighter on a truck ladder eventually lowered the victim to the ground.

One co-worker said it wasn’t until about an hour after he was electrocuted that paramedics began working on him.

He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

“He was a good kid,” Witucki said, “loved his life, loved his job.”

After the incident, Minnetonka police arrested the owner of the tree trimming company and Witucki on out-standing warrants.

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