OSHA investigators: Pole holding Duke Energy worker snapped below ground

UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A Duke Energy employee died Thursday after he fell from a power pole in Union Township, leaving his family heartbroken.

Keith Jester, 43, of Hamilton, was taken from the scene by CareFlight to Bethesda Arrow Springs where he died from his injuries, according to the sheriff's and coroner's offices in Warren County.

Investigators of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) told WCPO reporter Jay Warren Friday that while Jester was training four other Duke Energy employees, they believe the pole snapped below the ground.

Both workers' climbing belts and spikes for their boots were found attached to the pole.

The pole showed craters from when the workers hit it with a hammer for a sound check - a safety precaution before climbing.

Duke Energy spokesperson Sally Thelen gave no comment on Friday's findings, as the investigation is not yet complete.

"Safety is a priority at Duke Energy," she said. "It's a focus, something that we are committed to as a company, something that we do everyday, certainly anytime that we're doing activity in the field. We have personal safety protective gear and equipment and protocols that we follow."

Investigators believe Jester followed safety protocols Thursday. No conclusions were made about the pole's condition.

One other employee fell while working on the power line with Jester. He was taken to a nearby emergency room. No information on his condition was released.

The fall happened shortly before 1 p.m. near the intersection of Mason Morrow Millgrove Road and Stubbs Mill Road, Thelen said.

"Duke Energy extends its deepest sympathies to our fallen colleague and his family, friends and co-workers," Thelen said in a statement released Friday morning. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to our injured employee as well and his family. Duke Energy will continue to work with authorities to determine how the accident happened."

Deputies said the utility pole broke, and sent both Jester and the other worker about 20 feet to the ground.

WCPO reporter Bryce Anslinger spoke to Jester's family later Thursday evening, who said he was a father of four. The family recently lost a child in September, who died in his sleep.

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