Ky. Firefighter Still Critical After ALS Event Goes Wrong

Aug. 23--One firefighter remained in critical condition and his partner was in stable condition Friday at a Louisville hospital after an freakish accident in Campbellsville.

Campbellsville Fire Department Capt. Tony Grider, 41, was in critical condition at University of Louisville Hospital, officials there said. Firefighter Simon A. Quinn, 22, was in fair condition, the hospital said.

Grider and Quinn were rushed to the hospital Thursday afternoon after being seriously injured when electricity from a high-voltage line arced onto the ladder of a fire truck they were using in a student fundraising event -- a variation of the popular Ice Bucket Challenge -- at Campbellsville University.

Two other firefighters -- Capt. Steve Marrs, 37, and Alex Johnson, 28, -- also suffered electrical shocks but were released after being treated in Campbellsville, authorities said.

It happened shortly before noon Thursday, as the firefighters assisted Campbellsville University students with the event to raise research money for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Such events have been held on many college campuses this year.

According to authorities, Grider and Quinn were in a raised bucket on the end of a fire truck's ladder, spraying cold water on members of the Campbellsville University band who had volunteered for the fundraiser.

The bucket was being lowered after the event when it apparently came too near a high-power electrical line overhead. Current from the line arced, striking the bucket holding Grider and Quinn. Both men were burned.

The other two firefighters, Marrs and Johnson, suffered shocks when they took control of the ladder from below. However, they were able to lower the bucket and assist Quinn and Grider.

Allen Johnson, a former Campbellsville fire chief who also is Alex Johnson's father, estimated that the line was carrying 69,000 volts of electricity.

The fire truck bucket did not touch the power line, but experts said electricity can "jump," or arc, across open space from a high-power line and can strike another object without physical contact. The greater the voltage in the line, and the higher the humidity in the surrounding air, the farther the electricity can leap.

Thursday's accident knocked out electrical power in parts of Taylor County and in neighboring Green County. It also affected land-line telephone service at the university for much of the afternoon.

Several hundred people turned out Thursday night for a prayer service for the injured firefighters on the campus.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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