“An electrician who was severely shocked Saturday while working on the future downtown headquarters of Xcel Energy in Amarillo died from his injuries Sunday morning at a Lubbock hospital. His supervisor remained hospitalized Sunday. Roper Copelin, 30, died at 4:42 a.m. Sunday at the University Medical Center Timothy J. Harnar Regional Burn Center in Lubbock, his mother, Tangela Copelin, said. The other worker, Keath Garrison, Copelin’s boss, is also being treated at the burn center in Lubbock, she said.
“They’re giving Keath a better prognosis,” Tangela Copelin said in a telephone interview from her home in Hedley, Texas. “He’s been responsive but he’s got burns over 30 percent of his body plus he inhaled the smoke.”
She said her son Roper was single and lived in Amarillo and had been working alongside Garrison at A1 Electric for about four years.
“When they were behind on jobs they would work on Saturdays,” Copelin’s mother said. “They worked together a lot, and whenever he could Keath would ask for Roper. They were much more than just coworkers.” Garrison is married and has two children, Tangela Copelin said.
Garrison and Copelin were drilling on the second floor of a parking garage under construction in a building that is the future home of Xcel Energy at the corner of Eigth Avenue and Buchanan Street when the incident occurred, according to investigators. Southwest General Contractors and Opus Design Build, L.L.C., plus a number of other subcontractors, are involved in the construction.
“Work at the site has been suspended for the weekend following the incident,” Opus spokesperson Meagan Pick said Sunday in a statement. “Opus is investigating the cause of the incident. Our sympathies and prayers are with the families of the two workers.” Employees on the scene Saturday said the two workers may have made contact with electrical lines. A first alarm sent firefighters to the scene where a fire was reported to be burning. Amarillo firefighters responded to the blaze at 1:47 p.m., five minutes after the call first came in to dispatch. A second alarm was immediately sounded and 26 firefighters from eight units brought the fire under control at 2 p.m. The two severely injured men were transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to Amarillo Fire Department spokesman Capt. Larry Davis. The firefighters cleared smoke that had risen to the building’s higher floors after the blaze was extinguished.
Later, the two injured workers were transported to the burn center in Lubbock. The Amarillo Fire Marshal’s Office and Amarillo Police Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit are investigating the incident.”