One woman is in hospital and her two beloved dogs have died following a tragic electrocution Sunday.
A Harrison Mills resident was walking her dogs in a harvested corn field near her home at about 4 p.m. on Oct. 18. Neighbours believe the trio had been walking through the field when the dogs headed toward a sagging power line.
All three were electrocuted, but the woman managed to scream for help. She was heard by a woman who was camping at the Kilby Provincial Park, just over the dike. That witness ran to the top of the dike just in time to see the woman in flames, and 911 was called immediately.
That quick action may have saved the woman’s life, says neighbour Ted Chapula.
He knows the woman who was electrocuted, in the small community they often saw each other while out walking, and would briefly chat or say hello. Now, Chapula and his wife are caring for their neighbour’s many animals.
“We would talk whenever we’d walk by,” he says. “Her dogs were like her children. She was definitely an animal lover.”
He said the SPCA has been called to take care of the animals, but they would need a warrant to do so. Meanwhile, the woman is in critical care being treated for severe burns.
One of the animals Chapula is taking care of is a duckling that was living in the woman’s living room.
“He’s quite affectionate,” he says. “He kept following me all around the house this morning.”
He hopes that the story reaches the woman who reacted so quickly to the call for help.
“I would like to know who she is,” he says, and how important it was for her to investigate the screaming.
“It’s just a sad, sad, sad situation,” he added. “Who would have thought that someone taking their dogs for a walk would get electrocuted.”
Chapula did not witness the event, but he was there in the aftermath once it became obvious something was going on. He had been helping another neighbour with a plumbing job, and heard a dog barking — that was a third dog of the woman’s.
First responders were on the scene quickly, power was turned off to the sagging power line, and the woman was taken to hospital.
After it was deemed safe to go onto the field, Chapula and another neighbour retrieved the dead dogs and buried them in the woman’s yard.
“She would have wanted them there,” he said.
It’s believed the power line came down that Thanksgiving weekend in a very windy storm caused by Hurricane Oho. A cottonwood tree branch came down on the line, creating a loop. Chapula found a dead raccoon, further decomposing, in the same area.
“Electricity is always looking for a ground, and those dogs came within the perimeter,” he adds.
The power line was a short line going to a pumphouse in the field. It was hanging about two feet above the ground.
“The 20 or 25 people in the immediate proximity are absolutely bewildered,” he says. “We wonder how this situation could have been avoided.”
Some neighbours believe BC Hydro had been informed of the power line sagging. But a spokesperson said that is not the case. They have investigated the site, Simi Heer told Black Press.
” We have no record of a report of the damaged line to BC Hydro. Our reports and restoration centre records are not showing any instances of power outages and we also do not have any records of a downed or damaged power line being reported to us.”
Heer added that they were on site on Monday gathering information, and sent out condolences to the woman.
“Our thoughts are with her, her family and the community at this time and we sincerely hope that she will recover,” Heer said.