Veteran hydro worker dies repairing Sandy damage in Sarnia

Police in Sarnia say a hydro worker died Wednesday while repairing damage from Sandy.

Cause of death is under investigation

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley praised the work of the city's hydro workers. (CBC News)

A veteran hydro worker was electrocuted Wednesday while repairing damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Police say the incident occurred at around 10:15 a.m. on a residential street near the Lake Huron shoreline.

"Bluewater Power is an extremely close family. This is devastating news," Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley told CBC News. "Bluewater employees were on the front line during this storm, working around the clock keeping the city functioning and they did that."

President of the local utility, Janice McMichael-Dennis said the man was a "born and bred lineman" as part of the closely knit crew of about 120 employees.

She told CBC News it was a day of "unbelievable sadness" for Bluewater Power, and certainly a devastating one for the deceased worker's loved ones and friends.

"Certainly I'd be amiss to even think that any words could be even adequate to express…the grief for our family here at Bluewater Power and the grief that's with his family," McMichael-Dennis said.

The identity of the worker is being withheld until the family has been notified.

The cause of the worker's death is under investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

A ministry spokesperson told CBC News the worker was electrocuted while tending to a downed power line.

Ontario's Energy Minister Chris Bentley offered condolences on Twitter.

"Thoughts and prayers with family of Hydro worker killed in Sarnia," Bentley tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

"I hope we can find assistance for them," Bradley said of the worker's family and co-workers.

Sarnia was hit hard by the storm, which uprooted hundreds of trees, shut down an oil refinery and forced a hotel to close.

Bradley called the storm "a generational storm."

"We get storms, but they usually last an hour or two and they're fierce," he said. "But this was 30 hours of relentless wind and rain."

Environment Canada says the winds peaked in Sarnia at more than 100 km/h. Because the winds came from the north, the shoreline of Lake Huron, including Sarnia, took the hardest blow.

Some homes in Sarnia were still without power Wednesday afternoon.

Bradley said an evacuation centre was set up at Lambton College.

Insurers say damage in Sarnia could top $10 million.

The hydro worker is the second Canadian death linked to superstorm Sandy. A woman died Monday night in Toronto when she was struck by windblown sign.