News about an electrocution on a high school campus spread fast. Still, the details were conflicting.
Officials were quick to point out the injured men were not contracted to work by the school district. Still, they had set up scaffolding in the school’s football field and had been allowed to work inside of the campus without bother.
I heard the men had been working in Mission Viejo High School had been working for a member of the school’s booster club, and the banner they were trying to hang was for an upcoming tournament.
The issue set up a conflicting dilemma. Though school officials did not sanction the work, the company had been somehow allowed to go into the campus and hang the banner without a problem.
Here is the story:
Daniel Pohl was on scaffolding to install a banner, which school district officials said wasn’t approved, when he was killed.
BY SALVADOR HERNANDEZ / STAFF WRITER
Published July 21, 2014
MISSION VIEJO – A construction worker electrocuted at Mission Viejo High School was an employee of a member of the football team’s booster club and was hanging a banner promoting an upcoming game without district or club approval, a club official said Monday.
The three-man crew had built scaffolding and was installing a large banner for a game honoring the armed forces, but officials from both the school district and the football team’s booster club said they did not hire the company to do the work.
The accident is under investigation by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. School district officials said they are investigating how crews started work on school grounds without approval.
Daniel Pohl, a 23-year-old father from Apple Valley, was killed in the accident Thursday afternoon. Another employee was also shocked by electrical wires when he tried to help Pohl.
The accident occurred in a practice field at Mission Viejo High School, which has a strong following for its football team.
Workers from Five Star Plastering, a Laguna Hills company, were installing scaffolding on the field when one of them was electrocuted by overhead wires, said Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Kathleen Hennessy.
According to the company’s website, Five Star Plastering is owned by Tom Blythe, who is also listed as vice president for the football team’s booster club.
“We weren’t paying the vice president for anything he was doing,” said Kevin Bland, president of the Diablos booster club. “This was a gesture to help the booster club and the high school.”
But officials with the Saddleback Valley School District said permission was never sought to do the work. Officials are also looking into how the company’s crew was able to start the work on school grounds, said the district’s spokeswoman Tammy Blakely.
Multiple calls and messages left for Blythe at his office were not returned.
Officials said Pohl was at the top of the scaffolding on a football practice field when he somehow came into contact with electrical wires. An off-duty sheriff’s sergeant and a co-worker ran to the top to help, and the co-worker was also shocked when he stood up on the scaffolding.
Bland, president of the booster club, said the group wanted to promote a game scheduled for Sept. 12 with a banner. After the club was told last year it couldn’t hang the banner on the freeway sound-wall along the field, the club explored other options.
One of the options was hanging the banner on scaffolding with workers from Blythe’s company above the sound-wall, Bland said.
But he said no decision had been made, and that the club was unaware that the work was being done Thursday by Blythe’s company.
“We didn’t know he was going to be there Thursday,” Bland said. “No one hired the company and there was never an intent to hire the company.”
The booster club is cooperating with occupational safety officials to investigate the incident, Bland said.
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