Worker nearly escapes downed power line

Billy Bernardo
Billy Bernardo

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - In the industrial area of Halawa, a worker narrowly avoided death from a downed high voltage power line on Friday.

For Billy Bernardo, a typical day at work turned to terror as he barely escapes being electrocuted by 138,000 volts of electricity.

"It landed on that truck there and I was right here," said Bernardo.

It all seems so surreal.

"The sparks off the wire started exploding," Bernardo said.

Bernardo says just moments made the difference between life and death.

"If I would have moved that truck one minute earlier I could have been under that wire," said Bernardo.

It was a transmission line that feeds electricity out of a power plant and into a substation. Chopper 8 hovers above the Iwaena Street scene as crews below worked to restore power.

Hawaiian Electric Company says the incident caused an outage that affected nearly 200 hundred area homes and businesses.

The line touched two cars and a building, but no one was hurt. That's why its easy to joke now with buddies at work, but looking back, Bernardo believes he received a sign.

"Before I pulled out the light in the warehouse blinked first, then I looked back, moved the truck, the next thing I knew, the wire was exploding," said Bernardo.

After 17 years at Pacific Isle Delivery, he enjoys his weekends off.  But after his close call, this one might be different.

"Will you be going to church this Sunday?," said Zahid Arab of KHNL News 8.

"Probably yeah, I guess there is a God," said Bernardo.

While no one was hurt, the same can't be said for many of the area's industrial businesses.

Some lost an entire day of productivity as repairs to the line caused the entire street to be shut down.

HECO says the cause of the incident is still under investigation.