The photo is difficult to look at. A Texas lineman who traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to help restore power in areas hit by Tropical Storm Michael suffered multiple broken bones in his leg and ankle after a tree trunk fell on top of him.
Thomas Wesley Duncan was part of a crew that was attempting to clear a downed tree that struck a line when the tree fell on him. His wife, Kelly Duncan, posted on Facebook a photo of her husband taken after “the guys” got the tree off him and before emergency medical services (EMS) arrived.
Kelly Duncan said she posted the photo to send a message. “This is the reality of the dangerous job that our linemen so selflessly do. THIS time it wasn’t electrical. THIS time it was just his leg,” she wrote in the post with a photo that has since been shared more than 13,000 times. “It’s hard enough for him to be injured this badly, but being hurt this badly 1400 miles from home is a million times worse.”
Thomas Duncan was taken to the University of North Carolina Medical Center where he underwent surgery. “We are looking at 6-8 months of recovery,” Kelly Duncan said.
Linemen face serious hazards on the job including falls, electric shocks, burns and even being by objects like trees, making electrical line work one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Electrical line workers have a fatality rate of 19.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
But the industry is working to lower those numbers through “aggressive programs and policies utilities are putting in place to stress workplace safety,” according to Transmission & Distribution World.