A Salt Lake man who pulled three victims of electrical shock to safety Wednesday in Provo - and who was himself burned and shocked in the process - was released from University of Utah Hospital on Friday and is recuperating at home.
"I just couldn't stand by and do nothing," Conley said of his experience.David Conley, 45, Holladay, suffered third-degree burns on the fingers of both hands and on his left arm and second and third degree burns below his right knee, on his right thigh and left foot and a cut over his right eyebrow when he fell after being shocked.
Conley, a writer and photographer at the Deseret News for 16 years before leaving the paper three years ago, was at work in a second-floor office at Stephen R. Covey & Associates at 3:40 p.m. when he happened to look through a window and saw three men sprawled on the ground across the street, apparently the victims of an electrical accident.
Conley ran out of the office building and went to the men's aid.
Johnny Wakamatsu, 70, Pleasant Grove, and Rusty Schweppe, 44, Orem, had been installing a sign at 225 W. 2230 North, Provo, when their truck's boom-type ladder made contact with a 7,200-volt power line.
Wakamatsu was knocked unconscious by the electrical shock, and when Schweppe attempted to pull him away, he, too, was shocked.
Steven Blake, 21, Provo, who was driving by and saw the accident, stopped and phoned police for help. Then he went to the two workmen's aid, but when he tried to pull one of the men away he was shocked himself and began convulsing.
It was this scene that Conley saw when he glanced out the window.
He told the Deseret News on Friday night while recovering at home that he didn't think about any danger but ran toward the three men. A crowd was standing around the victims, watching them, and several in the crowd told Conley not to touch the men.
Nevertheless, Conley bent down and grabbed Schweppe and pulled him away. Then he returned and pulled Wakamatsu to safety. All the time smoke, fire and sparks were spewing about the area, coming from the base of the sign the men had been trying to install.
"Blake was on what appeared to be an iron grate and was convulsing, and I wanted to get him away from the area, so I touched one of his feet and I felt a little tingle of shock, but nothing serious, so I grabbed both his feet and pulled. I still felt a tingle of electricity, but no pain until I had pulled him clear of the grate.
"Then a terrible, overpowering pain hit my whole body and knocked me down. I felt as if I had lost all my strength at once. I must have fallen on my face, because I cut my eyebrow and had to have stitches later. I must have passed out for a few minutes, then I woke up and was looking at the ground.
"Everybody was yelling at me not to move, but I didn't want to stay there, so I managed to raise myself up on my hands and elbows, and then I got up and walked over to the crowd of people.
"Paramedics arrived a short time later, ordered the electricity in the area shut off and then took all four of us to the hospital."
Conley said he was taken to three hospitals, "first to Utah Valley, then to Cottonwood and finally to the University of Utah Burn Center."
Schweppe was treated at a hospital shortly after the accident and later released. Wakamatsu and Blake remain at the University of Utah Hospital. Blake was listed in serious and unstable condition Friday night and Wakamatsu in critical but stable condition.
Conley said he is scheduled to return to the hospital burn unit Sunday, where he will begin skin grafts on his fingers.
"It is a wonder any of us are still alive. I have gotten to know the other men and their families while being in the hospital, and I certainly hope the two still hospitalized come out of this all right.
"We take electricity for granted and underestimate its power. I really didn't know anything about first aid or electric shock. I just couldn't bear to see those three men lying there helpless, especially Blake who was convulsing so."