Coroner identifies second man who was electrocuted Wednesday

gkocher1@herald-leader.comApril 12, 2013 

Two men were electrocuted Wednesday after a cherry picker swung into the nearby power lines seen at the top of the photo. The house is on Mt. Carmel Road in northern Bourbon County. The names of the men, who were working on a chimney, were not immediately released. Photo taken on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Photo by Greg Kocher | Staff

GREG KOCHER | STAFF — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

The second of two men electrocuted while working on a chimney Wednesday was identified Friday as Eberhard "Abe" Schommarz, 76, of Lexington, said Bourbon County Deputy Coroner DeeGee Ison Roe.

Schommarz has relatives in Austria, Switzerland and South Africa, and it took time to positively identify him, Roe said Friday.

Schommarz was a friend of William Derek Gilpin, 51, of Lexington, who also died in the Wednesday accident, Roe said. Gilpin had apparently asked Schommarz if he would help him on the job at the Bourbon County house on Mt. Carmel Road eight miles north of Paris, where the accident occurred.

Each man had his own independent business. Gilpin was the owner of Masonry Medic LLC, and Schommarz operated as The Brick Doctor.

Both men were in the bucket of the cherry picker to repair a chimney of a house owned by out-of-state residents, Bourbon County Fire Chief Lloyd Campbell said this week.

As they swung the bucket around, the cherry picker hit a 7,200-volt line owned by Kentucky Utilities, Campbell said.

Residents in the area reported a power outage to Kentucky Utilities shortly before 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. A KU crew was dispatched to the Mt. Carmel Road area and discovered the cherry picker in the nearby wires behind the house, Roe said.

The crew in turn called the Bourbon County Fire Department because the cherry picker was on fire. Firefighters extinguished the blaze when they arrived on the scene.

Roe pronounced the two men dead at the scene. Schommarz had no identification on him, but Roe found an ID in a blanket in his vehicle. She was able to positively identify him through dental records and by obtaining a warrant to his home.

Gilpin and Schommarz were frequent patrons of Donut Days Bakery on Southland Avenue in Lexington. Someone from the bakery called Schommarz's cellphone asking why "Abe" had not been to the shop, Roe said.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Utilities and Kentucky's office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the accident, Roe said.

Schommarz, a naturalized U.S. citizen, fled at age 15 from then-Communist East Germany, according to a 1998 Herald-Leader story in which he was interviewed about how he trained for running events such as the Bluegrass 10,000. He came to Kentucky around 1996, saying he liked it better than California, but he had also lived in Africa and Europe.

In the 1998 story, Schommarz said he began running regularly when a friend talked him into participating in the Bluegrass State Games.

"I had so much fun," he said, "I decided to keep running and enter the Midsummer Night's Run."

Survivors of Schommarz include a wife in Switzerland, a daughter and son who live in Europe, and a brother in South Africa, Roe said.

Gilpin's funeral is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Monday at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Harrodsburg Road. Visitation is from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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