Two of my friends were digging an early 1800's privy in the Otsego area when one of them sliced a buried cable with his shovel blade. It let out a loud pop and bit a big piece out of his shovel blade!
Thank God, nobody was hurt. I understand the power of electricity, and also the power of wanting to help a friend. If things had been ever so slightly different, there could have been two dead bodies in that hole. The following is from the Kalamazoo Antique Bottle Club Newsletter:
I believe that many people live out their lives without witnessing any accidental deaths, but I have not been so lucky. Having spent most of my childhood and teen years on the busy M-89 highway between Plainwell and Otsego, I could not avoid seeing scores of accidents: cars hitting cars, motorcycles hitting trucks, etc. I've seen them all.
Last year I saw a tractor trailer rig ready to pull out of MacDonalds. The driver was in the left side to exit, like he was going to turn left, but actually he wanted to turn right. He needed extra room to make a wide swing with the long trailer.
While he was watching the traffic for a chance to pull out, he looked away from his passenger side mirror for a split second. That was all the time needed to set up one very nasty accident! Before he knew it, a lady in a small car, who clearly didn't notice his turn signal, was now right beside him and she was smack dab in the middle of his blind spot!
Finally, a brief break in the traffic came (which is actually rare on that highway) so he knew this turn must be made quickly. The powerful diesel engine made the cab torque and twist as it pulled the heavy trailer and, without the driver even feeling it, the trailer tore off the top one-third of that car! Amazingly, the lady survived.
Sometimes I think one of God's great gifts to man is keeping the future hidden from him! Of course, that is not always the case. The most horrible accident that I have ever seen involved digging a hole and an electrocution! Had I known ahead of time about what I would see, I would have never been there. To this day, the image haunts me.
I was in the sixth grade and we were on summer break at the time. My best friend Tim and I were drag racing our Stingray bikes down our new asphalt driveway. If it weren't for our bikes, summer boredom would have killed us for sure! We always noticed the traffic as we would watch for our favorite vehicle to pass.
Our favorite cars were Corvettes, T-Birds, hopped-up hot rods and big trucks! That morning we saw a big clam- shell crane turn into the lot down the street, where a new building was going up. In a flash, we sped to the scene to check it out. The big crane was followed into the lot by a dump truck loaded with a large cement septic tank.
It didn't take long for the crane to open up a deep hole for the tank. We had parked our bikes and climbed up onto a dirt pile that was out of the worker's way, yet provided us with a great view. The truck backed the tank into position. Next the crane was fitted with a heavy steel cable that was used to lift the tank from the truck and to ease it into the hole.
On a flat bed trailer that was hooked to the dump truck was a giant cement lid for the tank. In the middle of the lid, a steel section of reinforcing rod was molded into the cement to form a strong handle. As the crane lowered the cable, one of the men climbed onto the lid and hooked the lid's handle. Rather than hop off, he balanced himself on the lid as he gripped the steel cable with both hands.
Of course we thought it all looked like great fun to ride like that! The crane operator, who was the other worker's brother, lifted the lid and slowly swung the crane toward the tank. Then there was a loud ear- splitting clap and what looked like a blinding bolt of lightning.
Less than 1/8th mile behind the construction site was the Kalamazoo River and the Otsego Hydro Electric Power Plant. What the crane operator hit was a main overhead feed line, coming straight from the dam, carrying thousands of volts. The man who was killed was a red haired man with pale skin, but after his accident he didn't even look Caucasian.
When the emergency crew showed up, they couldn't do anything for nearly an hour as they let the body cool. We were too shocked to stick around. The sight of the man's body fluid boiling beneath his skin still haunts me to this day!Please guys be careful out there! Try to know as much as you can about the area where you are digging. Pay close attention to the location of outside lights, propane tanks and other buildings. Thank goodness this was a wooden- handled shovel and not a steel- handled bottle probe!