The Charleston-based employer of two workers electrocuted Wednesday in McClellanville issued a statement Friday that described the deaths as tragic.
"Stage Presence Equipment Rentals and all of its staff are deeply saddened by Wednesday's tragic events at Thornhill Farms," company owner Bryan Mahanes said. "Our hearts and prayers are focused on the families who lost loved ones and those that were injured during the incident. We sincerely appreciate the support of the community during these difficult times," Mahanes said. He did not respond to requests for an interview.
Dexter Keyes, 37, of North Charleston died at the scene, said Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten. John Fortney, 45, of Charleston was taken to East Cooper Regional Medical Center, where he died, she said.
Two workers survived. They are John S. Robinson, 41, of North Charleston, and Alexander J. Clayson, 33, of Charleston, said Maj. John Clark of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. Medical University Hospital reported that it treated and released Clayson.
The electrocutions happened when part of a tent erected for the "Showdeo" fundraiser at Thornhill Farm hit a power line.
Healing Farm Ministries decided Thursday to go on with the fundraiser at the farm, a faith-based facility for the developmentally disabled on U.S. Highway 17, because the families of the men said they want the event to continue, Executive Director Van Hendry said.
Eddie McKnight, vice president of marketing and public relations for Berkeley Electric Cooperative, said the utility has launched an investigation. "It'll take some time. Our sympathies go out to the families," he said.
The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Charleston County Sheriff's Office are investigating the deaths. OSHA said it would issue a report in about six weeks.
"The line did not appear to be any lower than average," said Ken Martin, an entertainment event safety expert who works at KRM Consulting Group of Richmond, Va. "We all too often forget that there are hazards overhead."