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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Holmes Beach man survives 23,000-volt electrocution

Greg LaPensee may have used up yet another of his nine lives. He apparently escaped life-threatening injury Thursday when he survived electrocution from an underground Florida Power & Light power line at a water main repair site near Westbay Cove on Manatee Avenue West. LaPensee, 22, was working for LaPensee Plumbing of Holmes Beach at the site when the incident took place.

According to the report from West Manatee Fire & Rescue, the incident took place around 10:59 a.m. Thursday, July 29. EMS and WMFR personnel arrived at 600 Manatee Ave. W. to find LaPensee still conscious, but suffering from an electrical burn. The report states that the estimated current that struck him was about 23,000 volts.

An off-duty Sarasota paramedic was reportedly at the site when the incident took place and provided immediate assistance to LaPensee. An FPL serviceman was also reportedly at the location providing information on underground FPL lines in the area when the accident occurred.

LaPensee was taken by Bayflite helicopter from the Kingfish Boat Ramp to the burn unit at Tampa General Hospital. He was released from the hospital Friday evening, July 30.

LaPensee should consider himself "real lucky," said one witness to the incident, who asked not to be identified. "He was working in a ditch about 7 feet deep and the electric shock knocked him out of the ditch and back about 10 feet."

Manatee-area FPL spokesperson Don Sayer referred all inquiries on the accident to FPL corporate headquarters in Miami, although The Islander had no response to messages left there.

According to Greg's father Mike, owner of LaPensee Plumbing, Greg has had two other incidents with electric shock.

And this latest incident was not Greg's first medical flight to a hospital.

In September 2000, a Cobra Mustang driven by Greg went out of control and over the rail of the Anna Maria Island Bridge at approximately 1 a.m. LaPensee spent nearly five hours in the water and survived that accident with internal injuries. The car was submerged at the bottom of Anna Maria Sound, northwest of the bridge tender building. He swam from piling to piling until he reached shore near 6 a.m. and told the bridge tender of the accident. He was taken by Bayflite to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.