While testing her new bike in North Orange Park Saturday, Tamra Potts said she was electrically shocked near the power lines hanging over the trail.
“I thought my legs were getting pinched by my seat,” Potts said. Then she touched the metal of the bike. “I got shocked,” she said.
Potts has lived in Orange Township for two years and heard of others being shocked in the park. “I thought they were just kidding,” she said. “I’m believer now.”
Once she realized she was being shocked, she tried to get as far away as possible. “I pedaled faster to get away from there,” Potts said. “I could hear the crackling of the electricity in the lines.”
“It’s not uncommon to hear crackling around power lines,” said Fay White, AEP Ohio spokeswoman, on Monday after The Gazette told her of Potts’ experience. “It’s safe. It’s similar to static electricity.”
Potts said she had the sensation of needles in her feet. “It’s more than static electricity,” Potts said. “I don’t think static electricity would shock me through my tennis shoes.”
Potts stopped at Fire Station 361 next to the park to report the incident. She said a firefighter shrugged his shoulders and told her to call AEP.
Potts could not believe the answer she had just gotten. “Isn’t it your job to serve and protect?” she asked the firefighter.
Orange Township trustees have heard reports about people being shocked near the power lines. “It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a complaint,” said Trustee Debbie Taranto. “I haven’t heard any complaints since I’ve been a trustee.” She has been a trustee for more than four years.
Taranto said the township has reported the problem to AEP before. “AEP insists that it is harmless,” Taranto said.
“I think the township is ignoring the problem,” Potts said. “The public needs to be made aware. There needs to be a sign posted.”
Katie Byers and her wife had taken their dogs to the park to play. “Our younger dog started doing a twitching thing,” she said. “We were under the lines in the parking area near the basketball court.”
“When I touched the collar, it shocked me,” said Byers. “My wife touched it and got shocked, too.” That’s when they realized their dog was being shocked.
Living in the condominiums across from the park, Bob Haller has walked the trails many times without ever being shocked. “I didn’t feel anything,” he said after walking under the lines Monday morning.
“Even static electricity hurts,” Potts said. “It could cause someone to wreck their bike.”
White said she would alert AEP’s transmission workers about the situation so they could send someone out to check the lines for any serious problems.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.