By PATRICK HALL
The Wilson Post
A maintenance worker for the Lebanon Special School District was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center by ambulance Tuesday afternoon for severe burns, after he struck a gas main with a trenching machine on Leeville Pike.
Jerry England, maintenance supervisor for the LSSD, was operating the machine along Leeville Pike between a telephone pole and the new Winfree-Bryant Middle School roadway sign when it struck the gas main, causing flames to burst up to 9 feet in the air around England.
Hes got second-degree burns on his face and arms, said Larry Stevens, also of the LSSD maintenance staff, adding, We had no idea it was under there.
Stevens said England alerted him of the accident on their two-way radios, and staff at WBMS called 911. England was quickly rushed to Vanderbilt as the Lebanon Fire Department and Lebanon Gas Department responded to the scene.
Within minutes the gas main was turned off and the LFD extinguished the flames that had engulfed the trenching machine and burned a large area of grass around where England was digging.
Jerry Snodgrass, gas manager for the Lebanon Gas Department, pointed out it is state law for anyone to call 811 to receive a permit for digging. The Underground Damage Prevention Act requires that individuals call the number before digging so local departments can check if there are any water or gas lines nearby.
Stevens said he had called 811 several weeks ago and indicated they had received permission to dig. The LSSD maintenance department was planning to run electricity from the telephone pole over to the WBMS sign.
We had called 811 about the digging, all that was gold, we had permission to go across the church lot, Stevens explained. The incident occurred near College Hills Church of Christ.
As the LFD sprayed water on the smoking trenching machine, Snodgrass was attempting to confirm the LSSD called 811 and had a valid permit. He said anyone digging has to call 811 at least 72 hours prior to digging.
It was confirmed the maintenance crew called 811 on Feb. 6, but Snodgrass said the permits are only valid for 15 days. He also indicated there were no marks in the grass or on the roadway to indicate the gas line was present where England was digging.
If we didnt have it marked correctly, were at fault, Snodgrass said. Theres some dispute about the timing of the permit.
However, Snodgrass said regardless of who is at fault, he was regretful that England was injured in the accident.
Machines are replaceable, pipes are replaceable, but when someone gets hurtsafety is our main concern, Snodgrass said.
The gas main that was struck is not connected to WBMS, and Snodgrass said there was no danger to the school from the accident.
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Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.