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Electrocution mishap claims 1

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This is the lift the men were using to install siding on Gladeville United Methodist Church on Monday. One man was electrocuted when the lift came in contact with a power line.  JENNIFER HORTON / The Wilson Post


GLADEVILLE – A man who was electrocuted shortly after noon on Monday when the lift he was operating came in contact with a power line has been identified.

J.C. Phillips, 41, of Livingston in Overton County, was killed when the basket of the lift machine he was maneuvering into place next to Gladeville United Methodist Church touched a power line. Phillips, who was operating the crane, and another man who was inside the basket, were subcontractors installing siding at the church which has undergone an expansion.

Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe said the basket, the platform of which was made of wood, was “too wide for the distance between the building and the power line. It was a terrible tragedy.”

He said the platform was about 10 feet wide, and although the flooring was wood, the railing around it was metal. The fact that the flooring was made of wood helped spare the unidentified man inside the basket. The man is also from Livingston.

Phillips was operating the crane, moving the lift into place, when it came into contact with the power line, sending the current down the arm of the lift to where he was sitting and then to a back tire to the ground. Ashe said the surge of electricity blew out the back tire of the lift.

“It was a lot of voltage in a split-second time,” the sheriff said, adding he understood the line was carrying about 14,000 volts.

John Jewell, director of Wilson Emergency Management Agency, said emergency personnel on duty at Station 5, located next door to the church, responded immediately.

“Our people heard two or three loud bangs,” he said, and the power went out. They looked out and ran to render assistance to Phillips and the other man.

Jewell noted that WEMA personnel could not lower the lift until a crew from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation arrived because they were unsure if the power line was still hot. The crew arrived and cut the power.

Jewell said it appeared that Phillips got off the equipment but sustained the fatal jolt as it entered the ground.

The man inside the basket was not hurt, but Ashe noted he “was extremely shaken” and was 15-20 feet in the air in the lift when the incident occurred.

“I’m sure it was a horrifying experience,” the sheriff added.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at This story was first Monday at


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