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Died as a result of Accidental Electrocution

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  • Oliver P Alkire (1828 - 1899)
    71 years 1 month 9 days.Son of Joseph F. Alkire and Susannah (Coburn) Alkire.Married Jane Carter 17 January 1850 in Lewis County, WVObituary: ALKIRE, OLIVER who was injured two weeks ago by lightning s...
  • Ernest Malachi Smith (1882 - 1915)
    "Last Friday morning about ten o'clock, Ernest Smith, who has had charge of the Mutual Telephone system in Hope for several years, was killed by coming in contact with a live electric wire while string...
  • Frederick William Tustin (1917 - 1952)
    FATHER OF 5 CHILDREN ELECTROCUTED WHILE HELPING HIS CHILDREN FLY A KITE ON EASTER DAY. A Dallas Pike father of five was electrocuted yesterday afternoon when the kite he was flying for his children wit...
  • Burie Lawrence Dye, Sr. (1914 - 1961)
    Burie Lawrence Dye served honorably in the WWII Navy Armed Guard and was liked and respected by all his shipmates and by the officers he served with.Burie was born January 19, 1914 in Fairmont, West Vi...
  • Jack Barton Adkisson, II (1952 - 1959)

Please add profiles for those who died as a result of Accidental Electrocution.


Tags: cause of death, accidental, accidental death, electrocution, electric accident, electric shock, high-voltage injury/death, lightning strike, low-voltage injury/death

Electrocution is the sudden and involuntary introduction of large - or persistent - amounts of electricity into the human body. Electrocution causing death or serious injury occurs after electric shock or electric current passes through the body. The word is derived from "electro" and "execution", but it is also used for accidental death. The word is also used to describe non-fatal injuries due to electricity.

Electrical injuries represent trauma with extreme gravity; they have a unique pathophysiology. They encompass several types, such as: lightning injury, high-voltage injury and low-voltage injury. The clinical manifestations range from transient unpleasant sensations without an apparent injury to massive tissue damage. Some electrocutions are instantly fatal.

Effect of Electricity on the Body:

The health hazard of an electric current flowing through the body depends on the amount of current and the length of time for which it flows, not merely on the voltage.

Low level currents can be introduced to the body and cause nothing more than numbness to the limbs, which can last anything from a few moments to a few hours. However high levels of electricity introduced to the body can kill instantly as electricity enters the body and tries to leave the body again by following the shortest path to the ground.

Low level currents can affect the beating of the human heart, which itself beats because of an internal electrical impulse. These alternating currents (AC) introduced to the body can cause the heart to skip a beat or beat in an unnatural manner, which in turn can lead to cardiac arrhythmias (changes to the heart's normal beating).

High level shocks simply pass through the body at speed and stop the heart from beating resulting in instantaneous death.

Low level electrocution, which results in death, in many cases leaves no external visual indicators whereas high level Electrocution causes a burning of hair and skin and leaves very visible scarring.

The voltage necessary to create current of a given level through the body varies widely with the resistance of the skin; wet or sweaty skin or broken skin can allow a larger current to flow. Whether an electric current is fatal is also dependent on the path it takes through the body, which depends in turn on the points at which the current enters and leaves the body. The current path must usually include either the heart or the brain to be fatal.

Fatal electrocution is usually a result of the current passing through the body or head causing cardiac arrest or damage to vital centers in the brain. ‘Stride voltage’ may play an important role in fatal electrocution.

In very rare instances electrocution can be used as a means of suicide or murder but these instances are few and fair between. The chosen method for these rare instances is normally to throw an electrical appliance into a bath full of water so that the charge is released into the water and the victim (or indeed in the case of someone taking their own life) is Electrocuted. Water carries electrical charges and if an individual is immersed in water escaping this sudden electrical charge is difficult if not impossible.

Electrocution is normally the results of an industrial or DIY accident where electrics have not been properly maintained or installed.

  • Hazards around the home or workplace include:
    • Extension cords - wires may be exposed or worn; children or pets chew on them or they are old or over-loaded
    • Electric outlets - young children frequently stick things into them
    • Electrical appliances - and water don’t mix; cracked or worn plugs or wires can be hazardous; old appliances
    • Swimming pools, hot tubs & Spas - faulty & old wiring, defective underwater lighting, improperly grounded vacuums, improper Ground Fault Circuit-Interrupters
    • High voltage Power lines - ladders, long poles or lift devices to trim trees; downed power lines
  • Lightning - is common but rarely results in death when it does happen. A lightning bolt can contain anything from 3 to 200 million volts of electricity but the injuries are sustained when the body converts this electrical energy into heat and then burns its way through the body.
  • Work hazards: (Electricity ranks sixth among all causes of occupational injury in the United States in 2015.)
    • Lack of proper insulation
    • Direct contact with energized equipment
    • Lack of proper safety gear
    • Improperly installed or damaged equipment
  • See: Klyker - Bizarre Ways to Die by Electrocution (30 photos) These 30 retro illustrations from 1930s show us how we can die by electrocution.

Statistics & Mortality:

  1. Fatalities from Contact with Electricity in Construction
  2. Electrocutions associated with consumer products: 2004-2013, pdf
  3. NCBI - Electrocution-related mortality: a review of 351 deaths by low-voltage electrical current
  • Electrocution is one of the leading causes of death in construction.
    • From 1992 to 2010, a total of 2,432 construction workers died from electrocution at job sites, accounting for nearly half of the overall work-related electrocution deaths (5,104) in the United States.
    • Between 2008 and 2010, the main cause of electrocution deaths among electrical workers was contact with "live" (energized) electrical equipment and wiring
    • For non-electrical workers, the main cause of electrocution deaths was contact with overhead power-lines, accounting for 58.2% of these deaths.
  • A study that was conducted recently by the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH) found out that from 2010 to 2015, there were 3,378 workers who died as a result of electrocution. Electricity is ranked fourth in causes for injury-related occupational deaths.
  • From: US Dept. of Labor/OSHA - Commonly used Statistics
    • Out of 4,693 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2016, 991 or 21.1% were in construction.
    • The leading causes of private sector worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between.
      • Falls — 384 out of 991 total deaths in construction in CY 2016 (38.7%)
      • Struck by Object - 93 (9.4%)
      • Electrocutions - 82 (8.3%)
      • Caught-in/between - 72 (7.3%) (This category includes construction workers killed when caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material)
  • From: Electrocution Lawyers, by Jeffrey H Feldmann - How many people are affected by electrocution?
    • Electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries each year among the U.S. workforce.
    • Electrocution is sixth among causes of workplace deaths in America.
    • Construction trades, and installation/maintenance/repair professionals are the top two groups suffering the most fatal electrocution work-related accidents, from 2003-2007.
    • Heavy equipment events accounted for 50% of those overhead power contacts, with cranes comprising 56.5%, drilling rigs 7.7%, dump trucks 6.7%, bucket trucks 6.7% and backhoes 4.9%.
    • Carried items comprised 20.5% of overhead line contacts, ladders 12.9%, scaffolding 2.2%, and direct human contact another 10.2%.
    • More than than 90% of power line contact accidents involved overhead distribution conductors.
    • Drop-down services from power poles to houses, and high power transmission lines connecting generating stations to substations, only resulted in 7% of workplace power line accidents.
    • Labor trades with considerable risk, in addition to heavy equipment operators, were roofing/siding/sheet metal contractors (9.3%), tree trim contractors (8.5%), water/sewer/pipeline personnel and communication contractors (7.9%), and painting contractors (7.3%).
    • It’s estimated that 62 agricultural workers/yr. die from electrocution in the U.S., with overhead power lines being the most common source.
    • Many children and adults are electrocuted or seriously injured in this country due to accidental contact with floating phases, downed power lines or objects such as green wood or fences in contact with downed wires.
  • From: NCBI - Death due to Electrocution in childhood & early adolescence (2003)
    • Childhood deaths due to electrocution are rare and are more likely to occur when children are playing around electrical wires or equipment, and often result from either faulty apparatus, or a lack of understanding of the potential dangers involved. The majority of deaths (11/16; 69%) occur in the home environment.
  • From: Nickle Electrical Companies - Electrical Safety Statistics (27 May 2015 by nickleadmin in Safety)
    • Recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that, on average, there are more than 400 electrocutions in the United States each year. Of these, about 180 are related to consumer products.
      • Of the approximate 180 related to consumer products, large appliances are responsible for 10 percent.
      • Electrocutions from wiring hazards, including damaged or exposed wiring and household wiring, totaled about 20 percent.
      • Ladders contacting power lines caused nine percent of electrocutions; in another five percent of deaths, victims contacted the high power lines.
      • Power tools were responsible for another nine percent of deaths.
      • Landscaping, gardening, and farming equipment cause 67 percent of electrocutions each year.
      • Before the installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), which de-energize a circuit when they detect a ground fault, nearly 800 people died annually from household electrocutions. Now, less than 200 people die annually from household electrocutions.

Notables Accidentally Electrocuted:

  1. Ranker - 16 Musicians Who Were Electrocuted on Stage (Many survived the experience!)
  2. Elvispelvis.com - Musicians Electrocuted
  3. ABC News - Hidden Danger: Soldiers Dying from Electrocution
  • Leslie “Les” Harvey (1944-1972) - electrocuted and killed on stage when he touched his microphone with wet hands; (Wikipedia - Leslie Harvey)
  • Agustin Briolini ( -2014) - As he moved towards the microphone during the band's opening song, he was electrocuted & died on stage in 2014.
  • Barbara Weldens (1982-2017) - French singer Barbara Weldens, 35, died on stage, apparently due to electrocution, on July 19, 2017. According to investigators, the electrical equipment may have malfunctioned due to storms in the area. Weldens suffered a cardiac arrest and was unable to be revived by emergency services.
  • Claude Francois (1939-1978) - French singer; after taking a shower, he stepped out & with his feet still in the water, reached up to change a burned out light bulb in the socket hanging over the shower & was electrocuted. (Wikipedia - Claude Francois)
  • Ryan D Maseth, SSgt (1983-2008) - was electrocuted while showering when an improperly grounded electric water pump short-circuited & flowed through the pipes, as the coiled hose was touching his arm. The electrical jolt caused cardiac arrest & death. (Military Times - Honor the Fallen - Army Staff Sgt Ryan D Maseth; Find A Grave - SSGT Ryan D Maseth)

Resources & Additional Reading: