Window cleaner loses arm after 33,000 volt shock blasts him out of his shoes

Window cleaner loses arm after 33,000 volt shock blasts him out of his shoes

Window cleaner Jason Knight before being hit by the electric shock and in hospital afterwards (Picture: Collect/PA Real Life/PA Wire)

A window cleaner lost his forearm after he was hit by a 33,000-volt electric shock, which blasted him out of his shoes.

Jason Knight, 34, was cleaning windows at a customer’s conservatory in Wiltshire, when the deadly current jumped from an overhead cable onto his cleaning pole.

The powerful shock, which happened last month, narrowly missed his heart and sent him flying seven feet across the lawn.

His shoes flew off in the process and scorched footprints were left in the grass.

Jason was airlifted to Southmead Hospital and underwent 17 operations, which included amputations of the forearm of his left arm and five toes that were severely burnt.

The dad, who lives in Westbury with his wife Sara and their 18-month identical twins, is still recovering in hospital and doctors say he may never walk again.

Recalling the moments after the terrifying incident, self-employed Jason said: ‘It was only when I looked down at my feet, my shoes were no longer on, that I realised I had such serious injuries.

Jason is still recovering in hospital (Picture: Collect/PA Real Life/PA Wire)

‘I somehow managed to roll and crawl to the closest wall, nearest to the conservatory, and managed to lean myself up against it.

‘At that point all I could think was that I was going to die. I couldn’t tap on the window, there was nothing I could do.’

Jason was using a water-fed pole to clean the conservatory on April 6 and neither he nor the home owner realised the cables running through the property were 33,000 volt electricity lines.

He said were no obvious signs around the property.

He had just finished cleaning the last pane and was about to pack up when his carbon fibre pole came close to one of the powerlines and Jason was suddenly ‘catapulted’ through the air.

‘The next thing I remember is waking up on the other side of the lawn meters away from where I had been cleaning,’ he said.

‘It happened that fast. I was very dazed and dizzy. I just had to wait for someone to come and find me.’

A charred foot print in the grass left by Jason after he was struck (Picture: Collect/PA Real Life/PA Wire)

‘Thankfully, the customer saw me and asked if I needed help and obviously I said yes,’ Jason added.

‘I must have then passed out.’

Jason’s dad John Knight rushed to the scene when he heard what happened, arriving to a nightmare scene with his son seriously injured.

John said: ‘When I arrived, I could see the air ambulance in the adjacent field, about 20 metres away – that’s when I knew it was serious.

‘The paramedics stopped me from going into the garden, but I managed to take a peek through a gap in the fence.

‘I could see his hand was completely black and he was burnt all down his face.

‘He wasn’t wearing any shoes because they had been blown off, and his feet were all black.

‘Obviously I went into shock and the pilot (of the air ambulance) came over and put his arms round me and said, “don’t worry, I’ll have him there (at the hospital) in 10 minutes”.’

The cables above the conservatory Jason had been cleaning (Picture: Collect/PA Real Life/PA Wire)

The day after the blast, Jason’s dad John contacted Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSEN), the company which owns and operates the network of power cables in the area.

A preliminary report has now been issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The report says that based on the company’s measurements, the power cables are ‘above the minimum safe height from the ground and beyond the minimum safe distance from the conservatory’, that there is ‘no requirement’ for them to be insulated in this setting and that they were last inspected in 2023.

But John has questioned the report’s findings after neighbours confirmed in a signed witness statement that in the past 10 years, they have never seen an inspector or been approached for permission to access the nearest electricity pole, which is in their fenced garden.

Guidance, published on the HSE website, states that ‘voltages lower than 230 volts can kill and injure people’ and that ‘going close to a live overhead line can result in a flashover’.

Flashovers occur when electricity jumps a short distance between an overhead line and a nearby object which has either not been insulated or the insulation has been compromised by water or other substances.

The electric poles that sit inside the property owner’s garden (Picture: Collect/PA Real Life/PA Wire)

‘When I stood in the footprints and looked up at the cable, it was directly above my head,’ said John.

‘How can they just look at this and be like “well, we’ve done nothing wrong”.

‘They should not be allowed to run these cables through a residential garden.’

Due to the severity of his injuries, he has had to close down his small cleaning business, H2O Vision, which he spent two years ‘building up’.

But the father-of-two is trying not to let the situation he’s in get him down.

‘Every day is a little bit better,’he said from hospital. ‘I do get up days and down days but I am positive.’

Jason’s sister Leanna Haskell, 31, launched a fundraiser on GoFundMe to help him cover the costs of modifications he’ll have to make at home, physiotherapy and prosthetics. So far it has raised more than £19,500.

She said: ‘The support from not only people who know Jason but also complete strangers has been really humbling and the only way I can explain it, is that it restores your faith in humanity. It’s been remarkable.’

A sign on the pole showing the last inspection date (Picture: Collect/PA Real Life/PA Wire)

An SSEN Distribution spokesperson said: ‘We were saddened to hear about the incident that occurred in Westbury in April, and our thoughts are with Mr Knight and his family at this very difficult time.

‘At SSEN, we take our responsibility for the public’s safety around our assets very seriously.

‘Since the incident, we have been closely involved with the Health and Safety Executive’s ongoing investigation, supplying details of regular asset inspections (the last of which was in 2023), public communications and evidence of full compliance with Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations (ESQCR) which includes requirements for statutory warning signs and distance from property.

‘We continue to fully support the HSE in its investigation, as required.

‘However, as this is an active investigation, we are unable to make further public comment at this time.’

In 2021 a man survived a 14,000-volt electric shock that melted off 25% of his skin.

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