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Investigation continues into electrocution of Hill City man

A Hill City man died on the way to Community Memorial Hospital last Thursday after being electrocuted on a job site near Wright. Richard Roy Washburn, 30, was employed with Ulland Brothers at the time of the accident. According to Carlton County ...

A Hill City man died on the way to Community Memorial Hospital last Thursday after being electrocuted on a job site near Wright.

Richard Roy Washburn, 30, was employed with Ulland Brothers at the time of the accident.

According to Carlton County Transportation Director Wayne Olson, Washburn was working on the same culvert replacement project as the two Carlton County surveyors who died in a traffic accident on their way to the job site Monday, Oct. 1.

Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake stated in a news release that her department, along with the Wright First Responders and Cromwell Ambulance, responded to a call at 1:34 p.m. that day reporting that a man, later identified as Washburn, had been electrocuted near the corner of Center Road and East Mud Lake Road near Wright.

Michael Welch, president of Ulland Brothers, said the first responders on the scene administered chest compressions until the ambulance crew arrived, but Washburn was pronounced dead on his way to the Cloquet hospital.

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Washburn was a native of Hill City and left behind two children - a son and daughter, ages 5 and 2. He was devoted to his family and loved hunting and fishing, his girlfriend, Jessica Kelly, told a Duluth News Tribune reporter.

"He loved anything outdoors, family, friends," said Kelly, who had known Washburn for more than a decade and is the mother of his children. "He was a good dad, loved his kids. He was just a real average up-north boy."

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was called to the scene on the day of the accident to launch an investigation into the circumstances that resulted in Washburn's death. James Honerman, communications director for OSHA's Minnesota office, said Tuesday the case remains open and is still under investigation.

"Everyone has been very cooperative in the investigation," commented Honerman, "and we expect it to be wrapped up in a couple of months."

Welch added there are still some unanswered questions regarding the incident. He confirmed that Washburn was not operating any machinery at the time of his electrocution, and that his supervisor and two other employees were present when the incident occurred.

Washburn had been employed with Ulland Brothers since July 2010.

"It's a great loss to have this type of fatality on the job site," said Welch in a cell phone interview on his way back from Washburn's funeral Tuesday afternoon. "Even though we're a fairly large company, we are a close-knit group, on a first-name basis. Everyone pretty much knows everyone else."

Welch said Washburn's funeral was well attended and "very impressive" in its scope.

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"People in a close community really step up at a time such as this," he said, "whether it's with cards, flowers, prayers, or offers of help."

Since the incident, Welch said he has spoken with Washburn's family members as well as the employees who witnessed the incident and offered whatever resources they might need, adding the company also has an Employee Assistance Program in place to help them deal with this type of loss.

Related Topics: CARLTON COUNTY
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