SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The death of a 21-year-old PG&E employee while working in the area of the Carr Fire is now under investigation.
The young man was an apprentice lineman for the utility company. Authorities say he was on an unpaved access road when his vehicle crashed.
Officials say the utility worker was restoring power Saturday near Whiskeytown lake at the time of the crash. Now, his employer and the National Park Service are looking into his death.
Brandon Johanson knows first-hand the dangers of working a wildfire. He works for PG&E and was nearby when his friend, Jairus Ayeta, 21, lost his life.
“It’s a huge loss for the trade, there was not a better guy that I think I have ever met. His family is even bigger. He was the sole provider for his mom and his brother and they don’t have that anymore,” he said.
Ayeta was originally from Uganda. He moved to the Sacramento area from Santa Rosa to work his dream job. He started working for PG&E last year as an apprentice lineman.
“You can’t meet a better guy. Just someone that is always so full of love and just always caring about everybody. He would bend over backward and go out of his way to whoever needs it,” he said.
On Saturday, Ayeta was on an unpaved access road near Whiskeytown helping to restore power to those impacted by the Carr Fire. Officials say he was involved in a fatal single traffic collision.
Neighbors still can’t believe he’s gone.
“With all the wildfires going on, there’s a lot of people away from their families, weeks at a time, all the first responders, and the PG&E guys go hand in hand with the firefighters and other first responders,” said neighbor, Andrew Bittner.
A spokesperson for PG&E said the safety of employees and customers is a top priority. Ayeta’s friends are now raising money to help get his body to his country of Uganda.
“He would give the shirt off his back to just help someone. So, I didn’t blink an eye when I heard this, I thought, okay we need to help his mother, we need to do anything we can to just make the situation the best out of this awful situation,” said friend, Ivy Johanson.
PG&E is working with law enforcement to investigate the circumstance of the incident. The crash also remains under investigation by the National Park Service.