A Sad Beginning

When you move into a new house it’s supposed to be a celebratory time. And it has been for the most part because we love our new house more every day. I’ll write about more upbeat house stuff in the coming days, but I felt like I needed to address what happened last week as this has obviously been foremost in our minds since.

Our first days here were marred by a terrible accident. It started when we hired J. Thomas Tree Service to remove a few trees for us on the property that had worried our home inspector and insurance folks because they were infested with insects and too close to power lines.

J. Thomas’ tree trimmer, Bob Hannah, had to rappel from a crane onto one of the trees to cut it down because of the power lines that were so close. But something unexpected happened as he was descending — I’m not clear on what exactly — and  his lower leg touched a 34,000 volt Penelec line.

He was shocked and burned. We were not home at the time this occurred, but plenty of neighbors and others saw it and rushed to the man’s aid. It was, by all accounts, horrific. We are so grateful that so many people happened to be at home that day that could help so quickly. I didn’t see the attempts to help him, but heard from a neighbor that a city policeman, a physician’s assistant, a volunteer firefighter and a nurse were among those that were here nearly instantly to help.

He was flown to the burn unit at UPMC in Pittsburgh, but he didn’t make it. He died Saturday. The accident occurred Wednesday. We’ve had visits to the property nearly every day since from insurance folks, OSHA, police and Penelec investigators. We’ve also spent some time with Jake, the owner of the company that did the work. I know he has been affected profoundly by this. He told me he’d worked with Bob for a long time. I told him — and I mean it — that I’d hire his company again. He has been the ultimate of professionals during this: reassuring us, dealing with the aftermath of the accident, and clearly grieving the loss of a friend.  His company is clearly a close-knit bunch, and I am so sorry for their loss. I didn’t know anything about Bob, but based on his obituary, he obviously had a lot of people who loved him and are hurting right now. We are so sorry for their loss. You can read Robert L. Hannah’s obituary here.




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