Virginia lineman suffers severe shock and burns while restoring power after ice storm

Around the South

DANVILLE, Va. (WRIC)– A Virginia lineman for Danville Utilities was seriously hurt while restoring power to thousands across the state in the aftermath of last week’s devastating ice storm.

Jesse Flack, of Danville, was severely shocked and suffered serious burns on the job. He is currently in a North Carolina hospital recovering after undergoing several surgeries and amputations. While Flack has a long road to recovery, close friends of the lineman say he is in “good spirits.”

Flack has been a lineman with Danville Utilities for at least five years. The 24-year-old survived a near-death experience on Feb. 16, while on the job.

“On the way to the hospital he flat-lined twice and they had to bring him back,” Tina Gauldin, a close family-friend shared with 8News.

Back-to-back winter storms slammed Central Virginia over he past few weeks. Thousands of people lost power, as trees toppled and ice weighed down on power lines. Flack and hundreds of other linemen have been working around the clock to restore power, putting their lives on the line.

“He had been working 16 hour days for five, six days straight from the ice storms, ” said Gauldin.

On Tuesday Feb. 16, during restoration efforts, Flack was climbing a pole in Pittsylvania County when he was severely shocked and burned. Flack is crediting a fellow lineman for saving his life.

“Jesse was up the pole and I assume when he said his co-worker saved his life that he had to go up and get him,” said Gauldin.

For Gauldin and her husband, Flack is family. Gauldin’s son and Flack are best friends and she’s known him since he was 12-years-old, which made her emotional when hearing the news. Tearing up, Gauldin learned of the accident on social media.

“He’s like a son to me and my husband,” Gauldin cried. “I saw a post, excuse me because I do get emotional. I saw a post that said a lineman had been injured in Danville and I immediately thought of Jesse, so I text him–saying hey just checking on you, hoping it wasn’t him.”

That text message went unanswered as Flack was fighting for his life.

“When he didn’t respond, I knew that he was the one that had been in the accident,” cried Gauldin.

After being revived twice, Flack was rushed into emergency surgery. One of his arms, below the elbow was amputated along with two toes. The current was so strong from the power line that it tore a hole through Flack’s thigh.

“It blew a big hole probably the size of a dinner plate, they say, in his left inner leg and back of his leg,” said Gauldin.”He’s had to go back into surgery to remove more of the muscle.”

As a close family-friend, Gauldin tells 8News she has been in constant communication with Flack and his mother since the accident happened.

“He’s still in a lot of pain,” Gauldin shared. “They manage that as well as they can. It’s going to be really tough for him for a while, he’s such an active young man.”

Flack was a high school athlete and spends his free time fishing and hunting. Despite his life-changing injuries and questionable mobility, he is keeping his head up.

“He’s in such good spirits,” Gauldin said with a smile. “He told me last night he’s had a couple of really rough days with pain, but he said it’s nothing ‘I can’t handle’. He is more worried about his mom and family.”

Flack has another surgery Wednesday and will be in the hospital for at least one month. He will have to eventually be fit for a prosthetic arm and continue intense physical therapy. The 24-year-old’s family and friends are asking for continued prayers and kind messages.

If you’d like to send a card to Flack while he recovers at the hospital, address the envelope as listed:
Wake Forest Baptist Health
1 Medical Center Blvd.
Winston Salem, NC 27157
Attention: 10 North Tower
Jesse Flack

Flack’s friends have asked the community for financial help as he recovers and have already raised more than $45,000. There is also an organization that helps fallen linemen and those injured called Fallen Linemen Organization.

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