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37-year-old Minnesota Power worker fatally electrocuted

He was also a firefighter with the Grand Rapids Fire Department for nearly 17 years.

A Minnesota Power employee has died after being electrocuted while working at a substation near Bovey on Tuesday.

James Gibeau, 37, was in the bucket of a truck working to replace a line at the substation at 21441 County Road 434 when he was electrocuted at 2:14 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the Duluth News Tribune, citing the Itasca County Sheriff's Office. 

A news release from Minnesota Power, which did not identify Gibeau, said he "experienced an electrical contact while working on electrical equipment at the substation" near Bovey. 

“This is a devastating loss and our hearts are with our coworker’s family, friends, fellow employees, and the entire community,” ALLETE CEO and President Bethany Owen said in a statement (ALLETE owns Minnesota Power). “We extend our deepest condolences as well as support and resources to the employee’s family and coworkers during this difficult time. Safety is at the forefront of what we do each and every day. We are working to identify what caused the incident and we are committed to help prevent anything like this from happening again.”  

Workers told the Itasca County deputies who responded to the scene that the line "was shut off but there was still a lot of static electricity that goes through the line," adding that Gibeau was holding a grounded metal ring with his left hand as he loosened bolts holding the small line he was removing, which was connected to the mainline, the Duluth News Tribune notes.

"The small line came out of the spot he loosened and he had grabbed it with his right hand making the connection complete," the sheriff's office said, according to the paper, which is when he got shocked. 

Minnesota Power has stopped working at the substation to allow a "thorough investigation" and has notified OSHA about the incident, the company said. 

According to an obituary, Gibeau was from LaPrairie, near Grand Rapids, and died on Wednesday at Hennepin County Medical Center "due to injuries sustained in an industrial accident."

"In his free time, Jim could be found outdoors, enjoying hunting and fishing, or tinkering in his garage; woodworking and inventing things," the obituary said. "Jim was a kind person who took pride in helping others."

In addition to working for Minnesota Power, he was a member of the Grand Rapids Fire Department for nearly 17 years, his obituary said. He also coached baseball and hockey in Coleraine. 

A funeral service is planned for Tuesday, March 30. 

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Itasca County Sheriff's Office for information. 

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