PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A Maine Public Service apprentice lineman who suffered third-degree burns on 50 percent of his body after a high-voltage accident last month has made significant improvements, but still remains hospitalized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Zane Wetzel, 25, of Mars Hill, was in fair condition at the hospital Wednesday, where he has remained since the Oct. 12 accident. His condition was recently upgraded from critical to fair.
Wetzel, who became a MPS worker in January, was with other MPS crews at a substation on the Parkhurst Siding Road when he suffered a flash burn to his chest, back, arm and neck. Company officials said the accident was comparable to getting struck by lightning.
Wetzel was hit with 69,000 volts of electricity during the accident.
He was taken by Crown Ambulance to The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle and then flown to the Boston hospital.
Wetzel’s wife, Courtney Hartin Wetzel, has kept well-wishers updated on his condition through her daily blog, www.projectprettyblog.com. The blog typically was about interior design and home improvement, but she has switched the focus temporarily.
She has written several times a week since the accident, as family members have remained at Wetzel’s bedside. Stan Hartin, Wetzel’s father-in-law, is also an MPS employee.
Wetzel has endured several skin grafting surgeries, and was heavily sedated for several weeks after the accident.
Courtney Hartin Wetzel wrote on her blog Monday that doctors have eased off on Wetzel’s sedation and that he is more lucid than she has seen him since the accident. He has been able to carry on conversations and knows the date and time. He understands that he was severely injured in an accident at the substation, according to Hartin Wetzel. His temperature continues to fluctuate, but doctors have been able to stave off infections from entering his body. He is undergoing daily physical and occupational therapy, and his wife has written that the graft sites are healing nicely. Wetzel is still outfitted with a feeding tube but has been breathing on his own for several weeks.
Maine Public Service Co. has released contact information for the family. Go to www.projectprettyblog.com to leave messages and get updates, or send cards and letters to: Brigham & Women’s Hospital c/o Zane Wetzel ICU Room 8C #51, 75 Francis St., Boston, MA 02115.