Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Six deer apparently electrocuted by downed power line

04/07/2016 10:09AM ● By J. Chambless

Six dead deer were found in White Clay Creek in Franklin Township on April 4. (Photo by Paul Overton)

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

On April 4, six dead deer were found close together in White Clay Creek in Franklin Township. They were found near the home of Paul Overton on Church Hill Road, and Overton took photos, fearing that the animals had been poisoned. They showed no gunshot wounds.

State Game Warden Keith Mullins pulled the deer from the creek on Tuesday afternoon. As word of the incident spread throughout the township, supervisor John Auerbach fielded inquiries from concerned neighbors.

In an emailed letter, Auerbach wrote, “There was concern about poisoning, but evidence did not support this. Electrocution from an adjacent downed power line apparently caused their deaths. The Game Warden observed that their tongues were bitten. Very likely, the water became locally electrified.”

While no people were injured, the incident is a warning about never approaching downed power lines.

“Overhead power lines in our township are energized with 4,750 volts,” Auerbach wrote. “There are two, very thin wires always arranged to be on top of the pole. These wires are dark colored and difficult to see when lying on the ground. They are very dangerous, and [no one should get] closer than 25 feet because of potential arcing.”

Overton said the PECO wires came down on the night of April 2, and he found them on the ground on the morning of April 3. “I placed a traffic cone in the road Sunday morning to prevent cars hitting the downed line, which was coiled in the eastbound lane,” Overton said, “Then I called PECO to report. I heard about the dead deer Monday. I am not sure who saw them first or when.

“I was alarmed by how far the voltage traveled through he water to kill these large deer,” Overton said. “I could have easily been killed if the street were wet when I placed the traffic cone. On Tuesday evening, a man and his daughter were fishing in the stream where the deer had died. If they had been in that exact spot two days prior, the little girl would be dead.”

In his letter, Auerbach warned, “When driving around, if you see a tree down, think about wires before you get close. Do not go up and inspect. You could easily step on a wire.”

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].