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Two dead in Elgin power line mishap
By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff

A truck performing work on a Fox River bridge in Elgin apparently struck a power line late this morning, killing two workers and causing a power outage. The scene looking south down the bike path.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Rescue personnel look over the scene.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

The victims had just begun painting when they came in contact with the wires.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/11/2008 12:28 PM | Updated: 6/11/2008 6:43 PM

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Two workers who were painting the Route 20 bridge over the Fox River in Elgin died late Wednesday morning when their truck came in contact with a power line.

The accident occurred about at 11:25 a.m. west of Raymond Street, which is on the river's east side.

City spokeswoman Sue Olafson said firefighters arrived on the scene to find the truck on fire.

Two workers, both men, were badly burned and pronounced dead at the scene. Neither has been identified.

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The men worked for a company hired by the Illinois Department of Transportation to paint the bridge, Olafson said.

They had just begun painting when they came in contact with the wires.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said the Eagle Painting and Maintenance Co. has a $665,000 contract to paint the bridge.

A woman who answered the phone at the Eagle Painting location in Lansing, said no one was in the office to comment.

"This is a really terrible tragedy," Claffey said. "We're not sure what happened. We certainly want to find out the results of the coroner's investigation."

Officials at the Kane County coroner's office could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

By early afternoon, the scene backed up traffic on Route 20.

Police officers blocked off paths to the bottom of the bridge. Work crews had draped plastic over parts of the bridge, a routine step with large painting projects.

As for the resulting power outage, ComEd spokesman Kim Johnson said the 12 kilovolt line that went down affected about 1,500 customers and bordered Route 20, Bode Road and Willard and Grove avenues.

Power was restored to all but 29 customers by 2 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.

Firefighters from Algonquin, Bartlett, Carpentersville, Hoffman Estates, South Elgin and West Dundee also responded to the scene.

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is mandatory after any workplace fatality.

"We will look at our standards and see if they violated any of our standards. That's our purpose in the investigation," said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen, noting investigators have six months to complete their task.

Eagle Painting and Maintenance has had a few run-ins with OSHA over the last 10 years, but nothing very serious.

In 2003, the company was cited for six serious violations and two repeat violations for lead dust while painting an overpass for Interstate 74 near Peoria. The company paid a $3,120 fine, according to OSHA records.

In 2002, the company paid a $450 fine for five violations for lead dust and lack of respiratory protection during a bridge painting project in Peoria, records show.

And in 2001, the company paid a $1,125 fine for violations to OSHA's code for aerial lift and accident prevention signs and tags while working on a bridge over the Wabash River in Lafayette, Ind.

To put the fines paid by Eagle Painting in perspective, OSHA on Wednesday announced $161,550 in fines against Family Video Movie Club Inc. in Springfield for two willful and 19 serious violations of federal workplace safety standards in the company's office, warehouse and woodshop.