By Mike Sokol
Two brothers die after jumping into a lake and experiencing symptoms of an “electrical current”
A recent Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) in Arizona’s Lake Pleasant is a stark reminder that electricity in water can be even more dangerous than a hot-skin contact voltage on an RV.
That’s because the fault current in the water spreads out in an electrical gradient, sort of like the rings around a bullseye target with the source of the fault current in the center. As you swim closer and closer to the bullseye center, your body is acting like an antenna and experiencing more and more current through your arms and heart. Once your muscles have more than 20mA (20 milliamperes or 0.020 amperes of current) traveling through them, they will no longer release, your arms and legs will lock up, and you’ll sink below the water and drown without being able to save yourself.
Anyone else who jumps in the water trying to save you can also experience this same muscle lockup and drown. So the first rule of any ESD rescue is to never jump into the water until you can get the power to the dock and/or boat turned off.
But an even more important rule is to NEVER swim around a boat dock or boats that are connected to shore power. And if you do feel your arms getting fatigued as you’re swimming towards a dock or a boat, REVERSE the direction you’re swimming and come ashore some other way. No matter how strong you are, there’s no way to overcome the muscle lockup you can experience from a voltage gradient in the water.
Read the story below, which I’ll update as more information becomes available.
ARIZONA LAKE “ELECTROCUTION INCIDENT” LEAVES 2 DEAD, 1 CRITICALLY HURT, FIRE OFFICIAL SAYS
Two brothers have died and a girlfriend of one was left with burn marks after a possible electrocution at a lake in Arizona, officials and family members revealed Monday.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference that 53-year-old Timothy Miller and his brother, 50-year-old Michael Miller, were out with their girlfriend and wife on a boat over the weekend at Lake Pleasant, located north of Phoenix.
Around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday [July 12] when the boat was docked at the Scorpion Bay Marina, Timothy jumped into the water “for an unknown reason” and experienced what is believed to be some type of electrical current in the water, according to Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez.
“This is a complex case because not only are we dealing with the issue of the drowning but we’re dealing with possible electrical current; it’s what’s being described by the witnesses on scene who were in the water,” he said.
Timothy’s brother noticed him in distress and jumped in the water only to also begin to experience the symptoms of a “possible electrical current,” according to the sheriff’s office.
Timothy’s girlfriend then also jumped in to help Michael, but she started experiencing the same symptoms.
As the 53-year-old went under water, bystanders pulled Michael and the girlfriend out. The deputy sheriff later arrived at the scene. Michael was transported to an area hospital, where he later was pronounced dead. Timothy’s body was located by a dive team under a deck during the early morning hours on Monday.
The incident happened at the Scorpion Bay on Lake Pleasant, located north of Phoenix.
“At this time, we don’t have any information to lead us to 100 percent say that that’s the cause, but we have found evidence that there may be an electrical issue that contributed as a factor to the drownings,” Enriquez said Monday.
The brothers had been members of the marina for one month, according to FOX-10 news. The Peoria Fire Department said Sunday night crews were originally dispatched to a report of a possible drowning at Scorpion Bay. Peoria Fire Captain Mario Bravo said that as more information came in during the response, officials learned they weren’t just dealing with a drowning at the end of a dock at Scorpion Bay.
“It is believed to be more of an electrocution incident,” Bravo told reporters.
Enriquez said the sheriff’s office is now doing testing, and examining the boats and dock areas at the marina as part of their investigation. The boat the brothers were using is also being looked at, even though no issues were reported the day before the deadly incident.
“Our primary goal right now is to figure out what happened,” he said.
Enriquez added that the woman who was pulled from the water is recovering with non-life-threatening injuries. Tanya Gaitan, the sister of Timothy’s girlfriend, told ABC-15 the group was at the lake for a birthday celebration when the deadly incident unfolded.
“She was screaming for help and she stuck her toe in the water,” she told the television station. “She has burn marks on her feet and legs and thank God that’s it but she’s devastated for losing both of them.“
The official cause of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Find more articles I’ve written about Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) HERE.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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