Franklin County, Tenn., man dies making Harvey repairs in Texas

Bloomington, Texas, resident Suanne Fox last Thursday snapped a photo of lineman Lachlan Brain, adult on the right, and her children, from left, Kayden, 4, Riley, 2, and Ryan Jr., 7, where Brain and coworkers, from left J.J. Bilyeau and Matthew Collins, were working to restore power to storm-stricken residents. Brain died Tuesday after being electrocuted while working on power lines in the Crescent Valley community just a few miles north of Bloomington.

A 22-year-old Franklin County, Tenn., lineman was killed Tuesday while repairing Hurricane Harvey damage near Victoria, Texas.

In the eyes of many Texas residents, he was ranked a hero.

Lachlan Brain, a 2013 Franklin County High School graduate, became a lineman in 2016 after attending the Southeast Lineman Training Center in Trenton, Ga. He was killed as he worked on electrical lines in the Crescent Valley community about 40 miles inland from where Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast on Aug. 25.

Crescent Valley is just south of Victoria, a town of around 70,000 about 70 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. Victoria County was among the hardest-hit counties in Texas, according to the National Weather Service.

Victoria County Sheriff's Office spokesman Bryan Simons said Wednesday that Brain was killed while working to restore power to residents along State Highway 185 between Victoria and Bloomington.

Hurricane Harvey

"He became entrapped in high-tension power lines and was accidentally electrocuted," Simons said. "He had just turned 22 about a month ago."

Simons said Brain was among relief crews working across Texas in the wake of the storm that pummeled the area with high winds and heavy rain. Simons said Harvey's eye wall passed over the western half of Victoria County, and the community endured hurricane-force winds for almost 24 hours.

Brain's was the only life lost so far in Victoria County in connection with the storm, Simons said.

Lisa Crabtree, assistant principal at Franklin County High School, said Brain was an athlete at the school, wrestling and playing football for the Rebels.

"Lachlan was one of those kids who was just a big teddy bear," Crabtree said Wednesday. "He was well liked by all the students. He was most notorious for big hugs. He gave good, big hugs."

Crabtree said she learned of her former student's death Tuesday night from some of his former classmates.

"Any time you lose a student - current or former - you take it very personally," she said. "Lachlan was just a good kid."

American Electric Power Co. officials on Tuesday confirmed Brain was working for T&D Solutions when he was fatally injured while working. According to the company website, T&D has operations in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.

"Our collective hearts go out to the family," AEP Texas president and chief operating officer Judith E. Talavera said in a statement issued Tuesday. "Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."

On his Facebook page, where Brain earlier Tuesday wrote a post joking about mosquitoes, people in Tennessee and Texas offered words of comfort for his family, appreciation for his help and named him "a true cowboy" and a "hero in Texas."

As Harvey bore down on the Texas coast, Brain wrote some excited posts about the coming storm relief effort and posted a video of the convoy of electrical crews traveling through the darkness to the storm-stricken area. He posted other remarks about expecting to head for Florida next and offered words of encouragement to other linemen working to help Texas storm victims.

Bloomington resident Suanne Fox said through an exchange of social media messages that Brain and company were among the crews that helped their community last week.

Fox and her three young children had been enduring a lengthy power outage when they began to see electrical crews flooding into the area to make repairs.

"My 7-year-old, Ryan Jr., saw the bucket trucks and was amazed that they were the same as all the trucks they had been seeing around town," Fox said.

She said Ryan Jr., his brother, Kayden, 4, and sister Riley, 2, each made colored drawings of of bucket trucks and asked if they could take them to the workers and thank them.

Fox was impressed with the children's desire to thank the workers rather than worry about the lack of power.

"They were just wanting to tell everybody thank you for working so hard to restore our power. The joy on [the children's] faces when we went around the corner and saw the three trucks was priceless," Fox said.

But the news of Brain's death Tuesday hit the oldest boy hard, she said.

Ryan was "upset, he kept asking questions. He couldn't understand why, when he had just seen him," Fox said.

"I'm happy that God put my children in their path," she said Wednesday. "On behalf of my husband Ryan Sr. and I, we would like to send our condolences to the family and we will keep them in our prayers."

The staff at Southeast Lineman Training Center issued a statement Wednesday:

"Our hearts are heavy hearing about the tragic passing of past LTC graduate Lochlan Brain while working to reconnect the areas damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Lochlan was great student who worked hard and was always a team player. His dedication to his career shows his passion for helping others. We are thankful for him and the many others who put their lives on the line daily to keep the power on. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with this tragic loss."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.