Contact with a 12,000 volt power line took the lives of two farmers at Prineville about 6 p.m. last night. Dead are Vern Higgins, 56, and John Frederick (Jack) Zbinden, native of Klamath County and member of a pioneer family of this area. He was 45 years old.
According to word reaching here today from a brother-in-law of Zbinden’s—Jack Wilkinson, Prineville—the two men were moving a potato loader through a gate on the Higgins ranch when the equipment struck a telephone line that in turn fell across the high power line. The power line fell across the Higgins truck from which Higgins had just stepped to the ground to direct the loader through the gate.
Apparently fearing for the safety of the truck the older man touched the door to move it from the danger zone. Zbinden, seeing the danger, rushed to pull Higgins away from the charged vehicle and in the split second both were killed, apparently instantaneously.
Zbinden was born in Malin. He had never married. Some years ago he lost a leg in a farm accident involving a hay chopper. For many years he resided on a ranch on the Merrill highway, about five miles east of Merrill with his family. They left the Merrill community about 10 years ago, and have since farmed extensively in the Prineville country.
He was the grandson of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Frederick Loosley, pioneers of the late 1870s at Fort Klamath.
Surviving are his mother, Mrs. Bess Hartley, Prineville; his father, John Zbinden, Diamond Lake; brothers, Robert Zbinden, Weaverville, Calif., and James Zbinden, Burns; sister Mrs. Jack (Mary Helen) Wilkinson, Prineville; uncles, Merle Loosley, Malin; Raymond S. Loosley, Fort Klamath; Forrester Loosley, Susanville, Calif.; Claude S. Loosley, Pittsville, Calif.
Mrs. Merle (Helen) Loosley, Malin, sister of the victim’s father, John Zbinden is also an aunt.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, from the Prineville Funeral Home.
Source: Klamath Falls Herald and News, November 13, 1953.