CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Officials say four firefighters were injured — one critically — when a fire truck’s ladder came in close contact with a high-voltage power line at Campbellsville University in Kentucky Thursday morning.
According to Campbellsville University President Michael Carter, the marching band was being sprayed with water by two Campbellsville firefighters in the bucket. The event was for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge near one of the university’s football and baseball facilities just before 11:45 a.m.
A photo taken by witness Tyler Arterburn shows the firetruck’s aerial ladder hovering over the challenge participants as firefighters inside the ladder’s bucket spray them with water.
After the water spray ended, the students left and the firefighters began moving back the ladder, according to Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette. This is when the bucket at the top of the ladder came close enough to power lines to shock the firefighters with electricity. There were two men inside the bucket and two on the ground.
Captain Tony Grider, 41, and firefighter Simon Quinn, 22, were inside the bucket. They were taken to Taylor Regional Hospital and then transferred to the University of Louisville Medical Center Burn Unit.
“One is in critical condition, the other is fair. Both have been admitted to the hospital’s Level 1 burn unit,” said KentuckyOne Health spokesperson, David McArthur.
Two other firefighters, Captain Steve Marrs, 37, and Alex Johnson, 28, received electric shocks when they tried to lower the bucket and an electric current traveled down the extended ladder, said Hazlette.
Marrs and Johnson were taken to Taylor Regional. Marrs was released and Johnson was admitted for observation, said Hazlette.
The incident remains under investigation but according to Hazlette, the ladder never touched the nearby power lines.
“From talking with the power company, if you get within a distance of 3 to 4 feet, the energy that surrounds the high-voltage wire will actually arc over another object, in this case being the personnel occupying the bucket,” said Hazlette.
WLKY reports that the accident knocked out to 4,500 customers in Campbellsville.
Campbellsville University released the following statement on their website:
Campbellsville University is asking for prayers for Campbellsville/Taylor County Fire Department firefighters who have been seriously injured on the campus of Campbellsville University.
“We express heartfelt sympathy and prayers for the families of the firefighters who were injured,” Dr. Michael V. Carter, president, said.
The university’s Baptist Campus Ministry held a prayer service on Thursday evening.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media campaign that aims to raise awareness and money to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
The ALS Association has received over $41.8 million in donations compared to $2.1 million during the same time last year.