Three people electrocuted in Oregon after power line falls on SUV

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PORTLAND Ore. – Two adults and a teenager were electrocuted to death after a live power line fell on their SUV in northeast Portland during a powerful storm on Wednesday. Miraculously, a toddler being held by one of the victims survived, according to reports.

First responders were dispatched about 11:45 a.m. as a result of 911 calls regarding a power line down and a person on fire in the street at the intersection of Northeast 122 and Northeast Siskiyou in the Russell neighborhood, a suburb of Portland, KPTV reported.

When fire crews arrived on the scene they discovered three bodies about 35 feet from the SUV. A neighbor witnessed the horrific incident and pulled a 2-year-old child out of the arms of one of the adult victims, later identified as the child’s father. The toddler was transported to a nearby hospital and is listed in good condition, according to KGW 8 News. 

Investigation revealed that a tree branch had broken off and pulled down a live power line onto a Ford Expedition, sending a powerful current through the SUV. Unaware of the danger, the occupants of the automobile stepped out onto the road while maintaining connection with the vehicle and they received a fatal current of electricity through their bodies.

“The vehicle was electrified, so when they touched the ground and the vehicle, the electrical current ran through them and the end result is we have three deceased individuals,” Rick Graves of Portland Fire and Rescue told the news outlet.

Majiah Washington, a neighbor, recalled: “I see from my window — from this pole right here — like a big flash — and at first, I thought it was a gunshot. I opened my window, and I saw the second flash — then, I realized it was the power line.”

“He slipped, and he fell — his shoe touched the wire, caught a little bit of fire on his foot and was smoking after that. He was the first to go — he had the baby in his hand still,” said Washington.

Portland Fire confirmed that Washington witnessed the incident, jumped in before emergency crews arrived and grabbed the toddler from the arms of the father. Once she saw the toddler, she knew she had to do something.

“In my mind, I’m just thinking ‘I have to get this baby.’ That’s the only thing I was thinking: ‘I have to get this baby,” said Washington.

Ronald Briggs, father of two of the victims, said he and his wife were getting in their vehicle to go to the store when they heard a thunderous noise.

“The next we know we heard a loud boom. And my wife’s like, ‘Oh my god, their car is on fire,'” Briggs said, according to KGW. 

“They jumped up — they was walking up toward the house. They were walking up the hill and they slid back down and my daughter tried her boyfriend, her baby’s daddy with the baby — and her foot touched the wire,” said Briggs.

“My son, my 15-year-old, tried to go down and I told him, ‘Don’t go down there — try to get away from them.’ And he… he died too,” said Briggs.

According to family, Ta’Ron Briggs was identified as the 15-year-old victim. The family’s daughter “Tajalea” and mother of the surviving toddler was 21-years-old and six-months pregnant at the time of the tragedy. The father of the 2-year-old surviving child was known by the name “Nash.”

“It just hurt. Seeing my kids dying — can’t do nothing about it,” said Briggs. “I have 6 kids. I lost two of them in one day.”

Ta’Ron Briggs was a 10th grade student at Milwaukie High School. The school sent out an email to parents and students saying they will be offering support for students and staff as they grieve his death.

Portland Fire and Rescue stressed the importance of not going near any fallen wire, as it could be live, and if someone is ever caught in a situation inside their car with a wire on top, they should never leave the vehicle, the New York Post reported.

“If it is indeed a live wire that’s going to cause you issue, we can get the power company started, they can de-energize the lines,” Graves said. “As long as you’re in your vehicle and you have that rubber from the tires connected to the ground, you’re grounded, you’re safe.”

Dameon Pesanti with Clark Public Utilities also said people should always assume wires are live. Never touch them or contact anything a downed line is touching.

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