OSHA investigating apparent electrocution of landscaping company employee on Siesta Key

Incident occurred on Freeling Drive on Sept. 24

An aerial map shows the location of Freeling Drive on Siesta Key. Image from Google Maps

An employee of a landscaping company apparently was electrocuted on Sept. 24 while working on trees damaged by Hurricane Irma on Siesta Key, Sarasota County Emergency Services staff reported.

The Sarasota County Fire Department received a call at 3:06 p.m. Sept. 24 regarding a tree trimmer that had struck a live wire in the 600 block of Freeling Drive, spokeswoman Ashley Lusby told The Sarasota News Leader.

Freeling Drive is in an area on the northern end of the barrier island that saw many trees toppled, Marlon Brown, deputy manager for the City of Sarasota, indicated in comments to the City Commission last week. That portion of Siesta Key is within the city limits.

The first EMS unit arrived on the scene at 3:11 p.m., Lusby added. Fire Department personnel requested that the electric grid for that area be shut down, Lusby pointed out, noting in an email that “this is done remotely within a minute or so of it being requested …”

“A male patient was deceased in the bucket of the lift,” Lusby wrote in the email to the News Leader. The Medical Examiner’s office will determine the cause of death, she added.

County staff could provide no further information, Public Records Coordinator Kim Francel told the News Leader, because “EMS incident reports and records are protected by the HIPAA law.” The man’s name was not released.

The HIPPA law was enacted by the federal government to protect the privacy of patients.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident, Genevieve Judge, communications coordinator for the Sarasota Police Department, told the News Leader.

Judge was unable to provide the News Leader with a copy of the police report before the News Leader’s deadline this week. She said the report had not been approved yet for release.

Michael D’Aquino, a spokesman for OSHA, was unable to comment on the incident except to confirm that an investigation is underway. He did provide the News Leader with a fact sheet explaining that if the agency “finds violations of OSHA standards or serious hazards, OSHA may issue citations and fines,” and that must be done “within six months of the violation’s occurrence.”