New Hampshire Man Shocked, Burned in Tree Lighting Accident

Fire officials say Bill DeRoche was using a long metal pole to hang Christmas lights on a tree

A New Hampshire man is hoping to be home from the hospital in time for Thanksgiving dinner after suffering a powerful electrical shock while hanging Christmas lights.

“I was slapping his face saying, ‘William stay with me, stay with me William,’ and slapping his face,’” recalled Merrimack, New Hampshire, resident Karen LeClair.

The terrifying moments came Tuesday afternoon just as LeClair started to prepare the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner.

“An explosion, I didn’t know what the heck happened,” she told necn.

LeClair ran outside to find her husband of 27 years on the ground beneath the power lines.

“Oh yeah, I thought it was losing him,” LeClair said.

Fire officials say Bill DeRoche was using a long metal pole to hang Christmas lights at the top of the tree in his front yard, when a gust of wind knocked the pole into the high-tension power lines energized to almost 20,000 volts.

“Electricity is always looking for a good path to ground and an aluminum poll makes an excellent path,” said Merrimack Fire Department Captain Matthew Duke. “He happened to be in contact with pole as well and he received at least some portion of those 20,000 volts.”

It was so powerful it blasted the lights from their sockets and even left holes in DesRoche’s socks.

“From the electricity coming out of his feet,” LeClair said, as she held his blue, burned socks.

LeClair’s husband is at Mass General’s burn unit in fair condition.

“He’s very lucky to be alive,” Capt. Duke said.

Putting into perspective everything this holiday’s all about.

“You got to count your blessings and never take anything for granted,” Le Clair said. “I thank God every day, every minute of every day.”

LeClair is hopeful that her husband will be out of the hospital in time for thanksgiving dinner.

As for the holiday lights, the couple still plans to light up their yard in time for Christmas, the way they have for almost three decades.

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