Utility worker killed when deputy runs over cable, throwing him to ground, family says
An electric lineman’s family says they are seeking justice after he was killed in an incident at a work site in Alabama.
Andrew Schwam, 35, was installing a cable on March 18 when a Blount County sheriff’s deputy drove over part of the cable, causing it to snap back and hit him, his sister, Savannah Schwam Stonebrook said in a TikTok video.
@sarahjackson567 @savstonebrook i hope you get justice. @tizzyent ♬ original sound - Sarah Jackson
The family has hired a lawyer to investigate, she said in another TikTok video shared on Facebook.
“I trust that he will do a good job to get some answers that our family deserves to bring some peace,” she said.
The family’s lawyer, Jeffrey Rosenblum, told McClatchy News that Schwam was working laying cable wire for high-speed internet at the time of the incident. He was on the ground running the cable from a spool to another worker in a basket.
When the deputy drove by, the loose end of the cable, which was on the road, became caught in the deputy’s vehicle, Rosenblum said. As the deputy continued to drive, the vehicle pulled the cable, which was a quarter-inch in diameter, until it became taut.
The cable acted like a “slingshot,” Rosenblum said, and when it hit Schwam, it “catapulted” him about 36 feet into the air.
“This just doesn’t hit me right,” he said. “Something went wrong somewhere and some safety precaution wasn’t followed.”
As next steps in his investigation, Rosenblum said he is going to seek out body-camera or dashboard-camera footage from the deputy’s vehicle and also look into whether appropriate safety measures were taken at the work site.
“This is something that obviously should never have happened, and this family deserves to get answers,” he said.
Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon said in a statement on Facebook that he was aware of Stonebrook’s TikTok video and was in Washington D.C. for a leadership seminar. He said there is an “active investigation” into the incident on March 18 and that he plans to release a video and a statement once it is complete.
“Please don’t make assumptions and rush to judgment without knowing the facts,” the statement says. “Please pray for the family of the man who lost his life and for the deputy that was involved.”
Schwam was “a hard worker who was eager to learn and climb his way up in a company that loved and appreciated him,” according to a GoFundMe page set up by his family.
He worked for Tri-State Utility Construction, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to WREG. He was working at a site in Hayden, Alabama, when the accident occurred, the outlet reported.
Tri-State Utility Construction did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Kyle McClure, the company’s director of operations, said in a statement sent to WREG that Schwam was a “dedicated employee and very dedicated to his family.”
‘Loved his children’
Schwan has a daughter, a son, a step-daughter and a step-son, according to the GoFundMe page.
“Andrew loved his children so much, even when he was struggling to figure out how to even be a father,” the page says.
His sister wrote on Facebook that she was proud of the person her brother was becoming.
“I was so proud he finally got on the right track in life and was working hard to be a good man and father,” she wrote. “I’m so angry and heartbroken he was ripped out of our lives before he could achieve all he was truly capable of.”
Schwam’s wife, Porsche Schwam, told WIAT that he was her partner and best friend. She told the outlet that before he went to work on March 18, her husband hugged her, kissed her and told her how much he loved her and the kids.
“I’m grateful that I did get to say goodbye and ‘I love you’ to him the day that he left,” she told the outlet. “A lot of people do not get that, and I did, and it does help but it doesn’t bring him back. I just want someone to tell me why he got taken from us. But I know that no matter what answer we get, it’s not going to be good enough.”
Hayden is about 30 miles north of Birmingham.
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