Palo Alto Utilities worker electrocuted

The city said the lineman was killed while his crew was working on a transformer near Middlefield Road and E. Meadow Drive. Police were dispatched to 670 E. Meadow Drive. Apple Maps.

By the Daily Post staff

A Palo Alto Utilities Department lineman was killed this morning (Nov. 16) while working on an electrical transformer at 670 E. Meadow Drive near Middlefield Road.

Dispatchers told police officers headed to the scene that the lineman had been electrocuted. They said he would still be in the bucket of a utilities boom truck when they arrived.

The city, in its first statement about the incident at 5:42 p.m., didn’t identify the employee. The city said it will release his name after family members are notified.

In the statement, the city said a five-member crew was upgrading the transformer when the man was killed at 9:47 a.m. Firefighters took the employee to a hospital.

City spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said the incident occurred on E. Meadow between Fire Station No. 4 and Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Nobody else was reported injured.

The city says this is its first workplace death in 30 years.

The city has notified California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will investigate the death.

“Our entire city family is saddened by the tragic loss of one of our own. Our condolences are with the family of our employee during this extremely difficult time,” said Ed Shikada, city manager. “This is a sad reminder of the risks involved in the critical functions that our utilities employees perform daily.”

The Palo Alto Fire Department Honor Guard is posted at the hospital to pay tribute to the employee who lost his life.


  1. How could this have possibly happened? Aren’t they supposed to turn off the power to the lines before they work on them?

    • They constantly work on live power lines in the city of Palo Alto,the same with live gas lines, it’s just status quo.

  2. You’d think they would check and double check whether the line was electrified before allowing a worker to approach it. What a big mistake!!!

  3. No. Lineman almost always work on energized lines. They don de-energize the lines. That’s why it’s such a dangerous profession. So tragic.

    • True, a great deal of the time the wires are live. This is done in order to not inconvenience the customer with power shutoffs. They wear insulated suits, rubber gloves and their buckets are insulated. Still, accidents can happen when the arc jumps to a tool or something else in the area that is not insulated.

  4. As an ex-employee of the city. I know firsthand that management constantly disregards safety and when you bring up issues concerning safety you are attacked for being a whistleblower. Approximately 6 years ago two of my fellow co-workers were electrocuted. The city has tried to cover up this incident ever since. There is absolutely no excuse for this tragedy. My prayers go out to this man’s family and friends.

    • KDN, could you please clarify? You say two city workers were electrocuted 6 years ago. When you say “electrocuted” I take it that they were killed. Is that what you’re saying? I’ve never seen that in the papers. Could you provide some details?

  5. KDN: If it’s the first workplace fatality in 30 years, how can you say two co-workers were electrocuted six years ago? Also – I doubt management “constantly” disregards safety. If you bring up legitimate concerns and don’t just whine about stuff, I’m sure they will address it. No one, including management people, wants people to get hurt or killed on the job. This is a terrible tragedy that likely involved a misstep in hazard assessment or risk mitigation. Condolences to lineman’s family.

  6. If you don’t have anything positive to say about this incident, which is clearly still under investigation, don’t say a word. Keep it positive. A good mans life was lost.

  7. To the people who have no clue what we do for a living and fail to educate themselves. All Lineman and Troubleman work on energized lines, overhead circuits are almost always left energized “don’t they turn off the power be for they go up there????” “What a big mistake” before posting things that make you sound like a you have no clue what you are talking because we all know you don’t have one try reading something about the topic. All wire/cables are always hot unless tested de-energized and grounded. So regardless a man lost his life he had a family that now has to go on with out him I personally had the pleasure of working for him at another utility and he was a good guy very easy going I shared many laughs with him when he answered his phone….My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  8. One of my old coworkers from Travis AFB (Solano County) Who worked in the Exterior Electric Shop(Linemen) texted me to ask if I remembered him from the shop. He must have left before I arrived in 1994. My condolences to his loved ones

  9. Hold Palo Alto accountable. They let some dude who just says he’s a lineman and come in and do lineman work. There’s a reason why we have apprenticeships. Now a family has no father. Thank you Palo Alto, your the best!

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