A painter told a fatal accident inquiry he watched his friend and colleague “smoking” after suffering a lethal 11,000-volt shock when their ladder touched an overhead power line.
Mark Tait, 44, said he was around a metre away when he heard a scream from Martin Buchan, from Dundee, after receiving the electric shock which killed him.
He said he and his friend had been aware of the overhead line but may have been distracted because they were talking at the time of the accident on April 2 last year.
Mr Tait said he had been traumatised by what had happened to his friend and was angry about the circumstances of the accident at East Leys Lodge, Errol.
He said yesterday Mr Buchan had encouraged him to go to art college but all he had been able to paint for months afterwards was people’s faces with flames coming out of them.
The FAI at Perth Sheriff Court heard the duo had extended a three-part ladder to its 10-metre length to reach the highest parts of the building they were to work on. Mr Tait said he was holding one end of the aluminium ladder with his foot as Mr Buchan, from Tweed Crescent, was pushing up the other end.
As they were a couple of feet apart the ladder struck the power line.
“I didn’t realise I was right underneath them,” he said. Maybe because we were talking, that’s why I didn’t realise I was underneath them. That’s what angered me. It was him screaming. It was enough to alert me not to touch the ladder. I looked up at him and saw the smoke coming off him. I felt tingling coming up my legs. Because I saw Martin I took my foot off and kicked it.
The inquiry was told the overhead cables were appropriately sited but were at a height of six to seven metres and considerably lower than the fully extended ladder.
“I had rubber soled, steel toe-capped boots. Martin fell one way and the ladder fell the other way.”
Mr Tait said he had called the emergency services and was given instructions on how to give CPR.
He added the pair had been discussing the power line just before the accident.
“We weren’t there that long and had just spoken about it,” he said.
“There were quite a few white doves sitting on it. He explained to me why the doves didn’t get fried when they were sitting on the wire.”
Sheriff Wood said he would issue written findings later date, but said: “It is fair to say from all I have heard that on one view this was no more than a tragic accident. Mr Buchan seems to have been an ordinary working man, a highly skilled painter and decorator. He went out one morning to do a job of work, and due to a moment’s inattention, suffered tragic consequences.”
Mr Buchan’s brother Francis said: “Martin was just a normal, ordinary guy, and it was just an accident. He had run his own business for quite a few years.”
He said his 37-year-old guitar-playing, metal detectorist brother was a father-of-one, who also left a partner.
The inquiry, before Sheriff William Wood, continues.