NORTH FAYETTE, Pa. - An on-the-job accident that nearly cost a local man his life has now cost him his job.
“For some people, it might be just a job, but to me, it was a career. I was proud to be a lineman,” said Charles Bill Pierce.
Pierce spent the past eight years working with West Penn Power until an on-the-job accident in October nearly killed him. He said he feels betrayed and letdown after receiving a termination letter in the mail.
“Based on your numerous violations, failure to comply with safety and work practices connected with the incident, your employment status has been terminated immediately,” Pierce read.
The accident happened on Oct. 14 at an industrial park in North Fayette. Pierce and another lineman were sent in to replace a transformer when something went wrong.
“I have no idea what I contacted that caused the shock,” said Pierce.
Pierce said during the repair, he received a jolt that bounced him up and into a piece of live equipment.
“It was lights out after that,” he said.
He said his family was told to prepare for the worst, and for 11 days, Pierce laid in a coma.
His wife, Kristi Pierce, never left his side.
“If that was the last time, I just wanted to let him know that he wasn't alone,” said Kristi Pierce.
Charles Bill Pierce’s airway and nearly half of his back suffered third-degree burns. He survived the numerous surgeries and skin grafts that followed, and now, he’s trying to adjust to life without work.
“If I knew I could go back to something that I loved, it gives you a whole new attitude, but unfortunately at this time, they’re not letting me,” said Charles Bill Pierce.
He said he was wearing the proper equipment and following safety protocols when he was shocked, adding that he was never given a specific reason why he was let go.
A spokesperson for West Penn’s parent company, First Energy, said they would not discuss personnel issues.
An online petition has now been started to get Pierce’s job back. So far, the petition, which can be found here, has more than 500 signatures.