Salem officials ID painter in electrocution

HADLEY GREEN/ Staff photoA man was electrocuted and killed while painting window sills on the exterior of Engine House 5 at 64 Loring Ave. in Salem on Tuesday.

SALEM — The painter who died when he was accidentally electrocuted on Tuesday afternoon has been identified as 59-year-old James Kennedy of Salem, according to the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Kennedy was painting the exterior of the fire station at 64 Loring Ave. in Salem when the aerial lift he was using became entangled in nearby electrical wires, according to the DA’s office.

Kennedy was working for Baystate Building and Remodeling Inc., which is located on Foster Street in Peabody.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident to determine if there were violations of workplace safety standards, OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said. Fitzgerald said the investigation will take “at least several weeks.”

Calls were placed to the company’s main number and a cell phone number for the owner, but no one could be reached. The company’s owner and president is listed as Thomas Lewis Jr. of Peabody, according to various web sites.

“Tommy Lewis is devastated by the death of his longtime friend James Kennedy,” said a statement on behalf of Lewis provided by attorney James Coviello. “They worked together for years and knew each other even before that, having grown up together. Jimmy was a reliable and skilled painter. Our condolences extend to the Kennedy family and we will cooperate fully with the authorities to help determine the cause of this tragic accident.”

A Dorchester-based nonprofit that aims to make workplaces safer, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, which is not affiliated with OSHA, issued a statement Wednesday on Kennedy’s death, calling it a “needless tragedy” that shows the need by employers to take precautions when a job site involves working around such hazards.

“Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of this hard-working man,” said MassCOSH Interim Executive Director Al Vega. “When dangerous jobs, such as working around power wires, result in a fatality, not only are families shattered, but co-workers are traumatized and put in danger themselves in desperate attempts to save the individual. MassCOSH will be monitoring the OSHA investigation and will work to ensure that Baystate Building and Remodeling is held responsible for any careless actions that lead to the death of this man.”

Staff writer Ethan Forman contributed to this report.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@gloucestertimes.com.

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