Man dies in hydro wire accident east of city
By BRIAN KELLY, The Sault Star Monday, July 07, 2003 - 09:00

Local News - A Midland, Ont., man is dead after making contact with a live hydro wire early Saturday afternoon near Bruce Mines. John Franklin Stephens, 29, was a member of a K-Line Contracting crew doing planned maintenance work on Cloudslee Road in Plummer Township northeast of the community. The road is about two kilometres from Highway 17. Stephens was working on an overhead distribution line from an elevated bucket when the accident occurred shortly after noon Saturday. “At that particular time they were in the process of reactivating a line and something went wrong,” said Sgt. John Lewis of the East Algoma detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police. Fellow workers applied first aid to Stephens. He was transported to Thessalon Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:24 p.m. No foul play is suspected. A Ministry of Labour investigation continued on Sunday. The Stouffville, Ont.-based contracting company had been subcontracted by Great Lakes Power to work on its overhead distribution lines. “We’ve been striving for a perfect safety record so we’re very upset about this event,” said Kim Osmars, vice-president and general manager of GLP’s transmission and distribution division, on Sunday. “We’re working with the appropriate authorities to review the accident and the causes leading up to the accident.” Osmars, declining to identify the victim or the contracting company, described the firm GLP hired as “excellent” and having a “good reputation” in the industry. “They’ve been working with us for awhile,” he said. While the accident continues to be investigated, Osmars also declined to say how long company employees had been working in the area or how many GLP customers in Bruce Mines were without power until about 11:30 p.m. Power was off for almost 12 hours while the OPP and Ministry of Labour investigated the accident scene. In 2001, in Sault Ste. Marie, Lewis Wheelan sustained major high-voltage electrical burns to 55-to 60 -per-cent of his body when a tree crashed into a power line and injured him. The Sir Jmes Dunn collegiate graduate was a summer worker with Neat Site Vegetation. The company was under contract to GLP to cut trees and clear brush near a hydro distribution line. Wheelan lost his right arm, both legs and the middle finger on his left hand. In March, Neat Site Vegetation owner Michael Piccolo pleaded guilty to two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. He was fined $15,000. That same month Wheelan accepted a $500,000 lump sum payment from GLP.