Hoopa Man Dies From Fall While Working for PG&E Contractor

A Hoopa man died yesterday while clearing trees from lines in the Weitchpec area. Kenneth Arlen Buck Williams, age 26, was working for a PG&E contractor clearing downed limbs to make sure power ran to homes in Humboldt and beyond.

Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Ernie Stewart said Williams “took a 60 foot fall” and died from blunt force trauma.

Williams was married.

PG&E released the following statement,

Hearts and prayers are with the family of our contractor’s employee.
There was a fatal accident involving an employee of a tree trimming contractor in Humboldt County …
We are looking into the details of the accident, so we can understand what happened.
The safety of our employees, customers and contractors is our highest priority.”

Above are the bare facts of this man’s death. Below is a personal statement from Redheaded Blackbelt.

As often is the case as a reporter, I know more than I can print in a news story. Arlen Williams, the man who died, was described to me as a “beautiful spirit with a heart of gold.” On Christmas Day his wife posted on Facebook a cute cartoon with two utility workers and she noted that all she wanted as a present was for Arlen to come home but she knew his job was to help get power back to people’s homes.


FEMA photo of utility workers arriving on the scene of a tree impacting lines. By Liz Roll (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Like firefighters, police officers and road workers, utility workers roll out of the house after dark when the wind rips trees from the ground and throws buckets of rain sideways. The workers head into the storm when the rest of us cuddle up in our beds asleep. Firefighters and police officers usually get recognized as doing dangerous work (rightly so) but road workers and utility workers often go unnoticed even though without them our roads would be closed and our homes would be dark.

Over the holiday, Williams worked to clear power lines to restore electricity to those cooking Christmas meals. That holiday he made it home. But tonight on New Year’s Eve, while the rest of us count down 10…9…8…he won’t be there to ring in 2016 with his family.

Tonight, if you raise a glass and say a toast, say one for Williams and for all the utility workers who keep the lights on and the phones ringing.




  • Thank you Kym,

    I spent many holidays alone while my husband works or restore power for others. I know my husband loves being a lineman, and as a wife of a line man I do worry about hi safety during the winter storms. Praying for Mr. Williams family and coworkers.

    • Beth, I know as the daughter of a road worker I remember the worry and the pride. Tears just kept dripping.

    • My brother is PG&E and misses lots of family functions but is dedicated to his work as your husband was too. Our thoughts and prayers for You and your families. Sorry, he’ll be watching overYou from a higher pole now!

  • My prayers to the Williams family,we are so very sorry for your loss.

  • As a fellow lineman’s wife, our thoughts are with you. It could happen to any of our families. Even the most experienced has had at least a close call.

  • Thank you Ken for being out in the conditions most people would never understand. May your family know that you were just doing your job to help others and I hope your family can take a little comfort in knowing this. To Ken’s Wife and family, my deepest sympathy to all the family. Ken R.I.P. we have your back!

  • So very sorry for your loss. Prayers for your family!

  • As one of these utility workers, this has been weighing heavy on me all day. Thank you for the recognition for what is otherwise a very thankless job in most cases. He’ll be in my thoughts for a long time to come, especially when being called out for storm help.

  • As the wife of a man in tree service, each day is nerve wracking to the family. It never settles your always on high alert and praying you dont get a dreadful phone call from a coworker. I knew this man he was one of my classmates. He was always happy and always had something funny or positive to say my heart goes out to his family and loved ones.

  • It’s a very dangerous job for sure,thanks for keeping our lights on and homes heated

  • Thank you for this kind news article, my brother in law was a wonderful young man who risked his life to keep us all comfortable at home. My husband also works with the Tree service contracting with and what happened yesterday to Arlen is what I pray not to happen every morning as my husband kisses me goodbye heading to work. He will be missed but

    • Heather, I hope somehow the words helped a little. They were all I had. Hugs to you and your family as you deal with this.

      If this is a photo of your husband and Arlen, then it is easy to see their bravery.

      • Yes that is my husband and brother he loved his job and each co- worker was his brother. I pray for their safety everyday and want to thank everyone for the helping hands. They have all come together to help me though this. I’m so happy that we said I love you more then enough never forget to tell those you love them as many times possible a day it will never get old.

      • Sorry for my typos, just posting in an emotional state. But yes Kym, this is a photo of Arlen on the top right of the photo and my husband on the bottom left. They were best friends, brothers by marriage and co-workers. He will be missed but never forgotten.

      • Hi y name is Scott Dupris I’m Lakota Arlene was part of y family he came to see his dad I meet him with my son they became good friends. He was like a brother to my daughters also. We gave h a nick name. (Water Snake) our condolences my son is having a very hard time as we all do. Any thing we can do JUST let me no. If need to call 605-218-2946

  • We are at the end of a long line. During that last big blow, a tree came down and took out the high voltage lines to us completely. Being one of only two lowly residential customers at the end of the line, I figured we would be without power for awhile. The crew showed up on a freezing, rainy, windy day. It was miserable to even walk outside to go to my car. They worked four hours on our line. Thank you to all the workers who keep us supplied, and I hope the family and friends of Mr. Williams can find some peace.

    • When I read comments such as yours, I wish I had a way to like them. I don’t have anything more to say really but I want to show that the comment was important and I’m glad I read it. Thank you.

  • Prayers to the family. So sorry for the loss.

    I posted this late last week:

    “I’ve been out of electricity for the past 18 hours. That said, every PG&E lineman I’ve met has an impressed me. They are all good at what they do and dedicated to getting it done. During the 2008 fire the power lines burned… we were out for 2 weeks. On days the USFS had grounded all their aircraft due to smoke/inversion PG&E helicopters were flying two man crews dangling from 100′ lines to get the to remote spots to reset power poles. Thanks PG&E crew, you guys are unsung heroes.”

  • Such sad news. My thoughts & prayers to his family & friends.

  • I am so sad for this young man and his loved ones. This is a sad moment. Prayers

  • These men put there lives on the line everyday, my son worked with Arlen, he said Arlen, wouldn’t think twice about climbing a tree, he was the best of the best, many tears shedding for the family and for our men who was there with him. Hugs, hugs and more hugs.

  • You are so right, Kym, that I hadn’t before considered the danger involved for people working to restore our power during storms and high winds. I give my thanks to all of them, and my condolences to Arlen’s family and friends.

  • May God wrap his arms around his family and give them comfort in this time of sorrow

  • Arlen was a remarkable person. Kind, caring, hard working, always positive. This is heartbreaking news. My deepest sympathy and condolences for his wife, family and friends.

  • My tears are falling for this loss. As a leader in this industry we all pray for Kenneth’s family, friends, and team members.

    • There are no words. Such sorrow for such a young person. Life is not fair. So thankful for people that do such dangerous work.

  • Arlen was a great person, cousin, friend, and Co worker. Love and prayers to Future and family and his extended family. We are all broken hearted, he will be greatly missed. My brother also works for the tree company and was with him. They risk there lives everyday and go without seeing there families for days. My brother said, Arlen was one of the best climbers there is, he truly truly misses him and has nothing but good things to say about him. Love and prayers to all the tree company workers, as Arlen was not only a co worker but a true friend, a part of the crews family. There are so many times they are with each other more than with there own families.

  • Have to say to arlens famliy so very sorry for your loss my husband to dose that same exact work and to often worry about him.in our time together i have watched my husband do many jobs of this nature.and can be one of those things were u just hold your breath till its over.and because of this knowledge that i have of just what the job intells i have to say its scary sonetimes and dosent really matter how good u may think u are u must always be very aware cause at any moment something could change it all.so heres to you arlen and your famliy so sorry.and to all you who have tomorrow be safe dont take it for granted.

  • Old beat up climber

    It’s the tree crews that do the most dangerous work. I did line clearance for 20 years in humboldt, (Garberville-Fortuna yard) did the whole 3 days straight of storm damage, with no sleep. It is definitely some dangerous sh#t climbing or cutting in the dark with no sleep. My heart goes out to his family. I did not know him, but I can tell you, any man that risks his life everyday to provide for his family is a HERO!

    PG@E linemen please respect your tree crews.

  • Our thoughts are with the family of this man doing rugged work to serve his community. Please make a donation when a site gets set up.

  • I have known Arlen/Kennith for years! Beautiful spirit! He felt blessed to help others! Loves his wife more than anything! He thanked his blessings everyday for his family! A true loss to many! My prayers are with his family and our community!

  • Words cannot explain the job that is done daily especially on storm. I am a foreman with the same contractor as Arlen was and this really hits close to home. Many prayers for Arlens loved ones and family. Much respect.

  • Arlen is and always will be my nephew. He is my brother’s youngest son. I want to say “Thank You” for the the prayers, kind and thoughtful words that everyone has written. We are at a lose and taking one day at a time. I send my prayers and thoughts to Arlen’s wife, Future. We will make our way down to Hoopa (Arlen’s dad’s family comes from Washington & Oregon) to send our love and to pay our last repects to Arlen. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to send healing prayers and kind words – they are helping and healing for us. Walk in peace. k

  • as a retired telephone lineman , 25 years with AT&T from eureka , clearlake , mendocino county and finally the last 19 years in sonoma county . i worked alongside PG&E and all the contractors in all those areas and in the worst conditions mother nature can throw at us . floods , snow , heaviest rain possible and 100 MPH winds .
    they are some of the bravest people i’ve ever met and had the privilege of working with .
    my condolences to the family and friends

  • Chris Castillo "Castillo"

    I had the privilege of working with and around Arlen for about a year. He was an extraordinary climber and a very hard worker. I know his wife’s family very well and would like to offer my condolences to them and all of his loved ones. I’m so sorry for your loss. He will truly be missed.

  • As a utility contract worker who also works with Arlen’s colleagues, I want to say it has hit us all very hard and our thoughts are with all of Arlen’s loved ones and coworkers. We think of ourselves as a team even though we may have different jobs, and his loss is felt by many whether or not we knew him personally.

    Much love to all who knew and loved him, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • I’m the same age and in the same field of work as the man you are all talking about I work as a climber for a contractor out laytonville and was on a storm call in hoopa just days before this incident we kind of go on auto pilot until things happen like this that bring us back to reality,the good die young we make sure to say we love you before we leave the house because we know the risk but we love what we do and I’m sure he did I’m sorry for your loss….

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