A man hanging Christmas decorations in a redwood tree in East Palo Alto Saturday was killed instantly when a string of lights touched two high-tension power lines, according to officials.
Police received a call through a Spanish translator at about 12:20 p.m. reporting a man hanging in a tree at 2012 Euclid Ave., Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.
The 23-year-old man was reportedly in a ladder stringing lights in trees for Page Mill Properties, which owns apartments in the area, Schapelhouman said.
The man reportedly threw the lights to reach higher into the tree when they touched two different legs of a high-tension power line, sending 12,000 kilovolts of electricity through the man's body.
Electricity apparently traveled through the man's arm and out through an area near his knee into the tree, Schapelhouman said.
Fire crews arrived to find the man hanging about 60 feet from the ground, apparently fused to the tree by electricity, and smoking from his feet, Schapelhouman said.
Firefighters could not immediately rescue the victim because the power lines had not been deactivated, Schapelhouman said.
The man hung from the tree until Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews arrived at about 12:54 p.m. and turned off the power lines, Schapelhouman said.
Firefighters had the victim down from the tree at about 2 p.m. and the San Mateo County coroner's office pronounced him officially deceased, according to Schapelhouman.
The victim has been identified, but his name is not being released, according to the coroner's office.
"This is a young man and nobody wants this type of thing during the holidays. He was just trying to make things brighter in East Palo Alto," Schapelhouman said.