Santa Fe city worker dies after being injured in electrical mishap

April 4, 2019

A Santa Fe city employee died Wednesday from injuries sustained when he was electrocuted on the job Monday.

Tobin “Toby” Williams, 28, was doing electrical work at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center when he was badly hurt.

“His injuries were severe,” his father, Neil Williams, said in a brief telephone interview.

Details about what led to the fatal incident are sketchy as the city continues its investigation, but witness Israel Guerra de la Rosa said Williams was alone on a lift and changing a light fixture when he was electrocuted.

“You could hear the force of the electricity that kept going, ‘Buzz, Buzz,’ ” Guerra de la Rosa said in Spanish.

Guerra de la Rosa said paramedics had to wait several minutes for the electricity in the building to be turned off to tend to Williams.

The young man appeared dead, he said, but “Thank God, there is a very strong God, and they revived him.”

However, Williams later died in a hospital.

Guerra de la Rosa, who cried as he recalled the incident, said Williams was always friendly and outgoing when he saw him at the convention center.

“Mi español no esta perfecto. ¿Pero cómo estás, amigo mío?” Guerra de la Rosa, who works for a local hotel that sometimes holds functions at the convention center, recalled Williams asking him whenever they saw each other.

“We saw each other like brothers,” he said in Spanish.

Guerra de la Rosa said he ran faster than he’s ever run in his life to get help when he saw Williams being electrocuted.

“I don’t know how to speak a lot of English, but I told them, ‘Call 911! Please call 911!’ ” he said.

Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, said Williams was part of a two-man crew who worked at the convention center doing routine repairs and maintenance.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, but he somehow got a hold of a hot wire and was pretty badly injured,” Randall said in a telephone interview from New Orleans.

Randall said Williams was working on a project in which the convention center is changing light fixtures from fluorescent to more energy-efficient light-emitting diodes.

After Randall was informed that Williams had died, he said he was stunned by the news.

“It’s very sad to hear — very sad to hear,” he said.

In an interview earlier in the day, Randall had called Williams a “great guy” who was a hard worker and easy to work with.

“It was just a terrible accident that happened,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing you hope and pray will never happen to anyone, let alone someone you know and that you’re working with.”

Jordan Guenther, Tourism Santa Fe’s marketing director, said Williams was transported from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center to Denver either late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Guenther said before news of Williams’ death. “The thing we’re doing on this end … is really keeping Toby and his family in our prayers.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.