Uncle and nephew involved in Sterling electrical accident


STERLING, Ill. (KWQC) — The two men involved in Tuesday’s deadly electrical accident in Sterling were uncle and nephew. The Whiteside County Coroner says 32-year-old Robert Zulauf died of his injuries. His 23-year-old nephew Jordan was airlifted to O.S.F. Saint Anthony Hospital in Rockford, where he remains in critical condition.

Sterling police and Com-Ed are still investigating how and why the Zulauf’s came into contact with the power lines. The deputy coroner says the two were working on fiber optic cable for Robert’s company Zucru Communications. The dispatch audio from the fire call portrays how difficult it was for first responders responding to the call.

At 12:10 in the afternoon, Sterling fire was paged to the Circle K on Locust street. Details were scarce.

“Sterling fire 2210 Locust, Sterling, vehicle fire,” reported the dispatcher.

Fire trucks rolled within a minute. The dispatcher provided more details.

“Vehicle fire, caller did report a man down, unknown any further,” said the dispatcher.

On the way, the police offered a grim update.

“All units responding to Circle K, pd is advising, this is an electrocution, they’re stating patient is on fire, wires are arcing,” relayed the dispatcher.

Fire crews found two men on the ground. One was on fire. One man lay underneath the bucket still extended in the air. Another man lay near the truck.

“The patient is moving,” reported an ambulance crew member.

A deputy fire chief says firefighters marched into the hot zone. They used fiberglass poles to drag the moving man to safety.

“Got one rescued,” said a firefighter over the radio.

Jordan was airlifted to a Rockford hospital. Robert died.

Details were not available for who owns the fiber optic cable the Zulauf’s were working on or the nature of the work the men were completing. A search of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration database didn’t bring up any safety violations for Zucru Communications.

O.S.F. Saint Anthony could not release more details about Jordan’s injuries. He remains in critical condition as of Wednesday evening.

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