A backhoe operator was lucky to be alive after his machine struck a live power line in Red Bank Tuesday morning.

According to police Chief Darren McConnell, the machine “came in contact with and became entangled in” overhead power lines at around 10:10 a.m.

The operator, 34-year-old Michael Schmidt, was unable to safely exit the machine, and remained inside until a JCP&L crew arrived to de-energize the arcing wires, McConnell said.

McConnell said that about 16 nearby customers were awaiting restoration of electrical service as of 11:30 a.m.

The operator was doing work in conjunction with the White Street parking lot reconstruction under contract by Shore Top Construction Corporation, according to Business Administrator Ziad Shehady.

In June, a gas line was struck during a related streetscape makeover project being managed by a separate contractor.

(Video courtesy of Glenn Lehner. Click to enlarge.)