ST. PETERSBURG TIMES--Pinellas

Man electrocuted while trimming tree
A branch knocked a Dunedin tree service operator's saw into a power line.
By CHRIS TISCH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 30, 2003


CLEARWATER - A 38-year-old man was electrocuted Friday morning when the saw he was using to trim trees hit a power line.

Jason R. Vaughn of Dunedin was trimming a pine tree in the 2400 block of Rutland Road when a branch broke loose and knocked his pole saw against the line, Pinellas sheriff's deputies said.

Vaughn was taken to Mease-Dunedin Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:08 a.m., about 15 minutes after deputies were called.

One of Vaughn's workers, Karl Bearlepp, 18, said Vaughn was about 35 feet in the air, harnessed in, and cutting branches above the power lines.

Vaughn cut one branch, but it got stuck in the branch of another tree. So he cut the lower branch and when it fell, it pushed his pole saw into the power lines.

"That's what arced it and he got electrocuted," Bearlepp said.

Bearlepp climbed up the ladder and dialed 911. He said Vaughn was unconscious but breathing for several minutes as Bearlepp kept yelling his name. Vaughn stopped breathing by the time paramedics arrived, he said.

Vaughn operated Fairway Total Tree Service, Bearlepp said.

"He was a good guy," Bearlepp said. "He'd help out anybody."

Jason Grimmer, a good friend of Vaughn's who had been working for the tree trimming service for just a few weeks, said his phone rang incessantly with calls Friday afternoon.

"He had a lot of friends around here," Grimmer said.

"He was a great guy," Grimmer said. "Everybody wanted to be his friend."

Tall, handsome, popular and fun, Vaughn "was one of those people who would walk into a room and people would think, "I want to be him,' " Grimmer said.

Vaughn was born in Panorama City, Calif., and moved to Dunedin from Canada several years ago.

He is survived by his parents, Carl and Lorene Vaughn of Ontario, Canada.

- Times photographer Carrie Pratt contributed to this report.