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Ore. selfie-seeker electrocuted, falls 40 feet from utility tower

Portland Fire Rescue said the person survived after possibly coming in contact with a 57,000-volt power line


Portland Fire and Rescue

By Beth Slovic

PORTLAND, Ore. — An unidentified person in Southeast Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood is lucky to be alive after they climbed a PGE tower to take a selfie, possibly touched a 57,000-volt power line and fell 40 feet into bushes along railroad tracks near Sellwood Riverfront Park on Wednesday, firefighters said.

The dramatic events unfolded just after 5 p.m. when one witness said the person fell while trying to take a picture from the steel tower and another witness said they heard a “transformer blow” before the person dropped to the ground. An off-duty paramedic who happened to be nearby later told firefighters the person “was conscious and breathing immediately after the fall.” The person survived, in what firefighters called “a stroke of incredibly good luck.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if the person touched the power line or, as firefighters wrote in a press release, the “power line arced and caused the electrocution.”

An ambulance took the person to a trauma hospital for evaluation since injuries from an electrocution, including heart arrhythmia, aren’t always immediately visible.

The person’s fall appears to have snapped a lower-voltage power line, which then draped across the railroad tracks. Firefighters guarded the area to prevent passersby in the popular park from walking into it.

A spokesperson for the Portland Fire Bureau wrote: “We would also like to remind Portlanders to stay far away from any downed power lines and to always assume any line down is energized and dangerous. If you see a downed power line, carefully back away and call 911.”

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