A 22-year-old Kohukohu man who died when he climbed a power
pole to an 11,000-volt transformer near Motukaraka on
September 22 has been named as Darwin James Joyce.
His girlfriend suffered burns, while power was lost by 32
North Hokianga households. The supply was restored to the
last of them late on Tuesday last week.
Emergency services responded to what they initially believed
was a car crash on West Coast Road just west of Kohukohu. It
wasn't until they arrived that they learned that a young man
had climbed a power pole and been electrocuted.
It is understood Mr Joyce had been arguing with his
girlfriend. He reportedly stopped the car and climbed a
double power pole with an 11,000-volt transformer on a raised
platform. His girlfriend suffered minor injuries when she
tried to pull him down.
Police, St John and firefighters from Kohukohu and Kaitaia
responded, stopping traffic and keeping people away until Top
Energy disconnected the power. Volunteer firefighters removed
the man's body about 11pm while a kaumatua blessed the scene.
Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw said the man died
after touching live high-voltage conductors.
"Our condolences and thoughts during this terrible time go to
the family of the person who died," he said, adding that the
company's first priority had been to work with the police and
firefighters to make the scene safe. It would continue to
help police and government safety regulator Energy Safety
with their inquiries.
Top Energy would also conduct its own internal investigation,
as it did after every safety-related incident.
Fire Service volunteer support officer Colin Kitchen said the
incident was "very, very traumatic" for firefighters and
bystanders; the volunteers were trained to deal with
distressing situations, with peer support and counselling
available to anyone who needed it.
"They've done a great job in very trying circumstances," he
Kohukohu Chief Fire Officer Bill Thompson, whose brigade's
main tasks were traffic control, communication and body
recovery, said his crew were "fairly mature," but any who
suffered post-incident stress would be offered support.
- Northland Age