A MAN who survived an electric shock which killed two friends and badly injured his son and another friend in March has described his limbs turning to jelly as electricity from a 12,500-volt powerline entered his body.
Ian Wheeler, 66, of Nhill gave evidence at a coronial inquest in Horsham on Monday into the deaths of Rainbow men John Helyar and his son Michael Helyar on March 16 this year.
Mr Wheeler and his son Nathan Wheeler had helped the men move a windmill on a neighbour's property.
The inquest heard from six witnesses including survivor and property owner Fabian Douglas and a policeman who issued a heartfelt apology to John Helyar's widow Lynette.
In his statement dated June 14, Mr Wheeler said he was a farmer but had moved and installed windmills for 40 years and had WorkSafe training.
Mr Wheeler said the men had decided to move the 20-foot Southern Cross three-legged windmill with a loader after a crane got bogged in sandy county.
"I was not aware of any powerlines in the paddock otherwise I would definitely have laid the windmill down," he said.
He said after about 100 metres, halfway to the new site, he left the Helyars and Nathan with the windmill to move his ute, but turned around to see someone running.
"I now believe it was Nathan being thrown from the windmill. At the time I thought Michael must have been run over because he was lying on his back on the ground," he said.
Mr Wheeler said he saw flames 'dancing on the ground' and heard a roar.
"The grass was burning, so I went and got a paint tin intending to put water on the grass fire," he said.
"I saw Michael on the ground - John went to help and I went to help John. As John leaned towards Michael he was electrocuted. I could feel electricity going towards my body and I shouted 'I'm being electrocuted!'
"I remember waking and lying on the ground and Nathan was on the ground on all fours on a mobile trying to explain where we were.
"I could see electricity spreading across the ground. My body was weak and like jelly and I remember having my foot wrapped in gladwrap," he said.
"We were not aware that powerlines were there."
Mr Douglas said his limbs also turned to jelly as he tried to help on the day.
"One of the windmill legs had been bent, but I was told it was okay because it could be straightened," he said.
"I decided to move my ute to a safer distance in case the windmill fell while it was being moved. Once I was far enough away I stopped.
"I heard the mill being forced into the air and then it was stationary.
"I could see someone lying on the ground ? to the left was a small fire 30cm by 30cm and 20cm from his hand.
"I could hear Nathan yelling something.
"I was very distressed and without hesitation and without stopping I put my hands under the man's armpits to move him away from the fire, but he was glued to the ground.
"I felt my arm wobbling like jelly and the next thing I knew I was thrown backwards and I lost consciousness and I was temporarily disorientated.
"I was about to go in again, but Ian and Nathan were screaming at me, telling me 'no, no, don't go in again or you'll be killed' - they'd both been electrocuted."
Further evidence from the inquest will appear in Friday's Mail-Times.