Electrocutions and Downed Powerlines: a Forensic Electrical Engineering Analysis of Causes, Reasons, and Effects





Electrocution, downed power lines, vegetation management, electrical protection, conductor damage, forensic engineering, forensic electrical engineering


In October of 1999, four individuals were walking a dog after a storm. The group of three males and one female came upon a large puddle, which covered most of a T intersection on their intended route. The female walked around the puddle as her two sons entered the puddle barefoot. Two of the male individuals were electrocuted. The surviving male entered the puddle to help and was immediately electrocuted. The dog followed them into the pool and was electrocuted. The female turned around to see her two sons and friend lying face down in the puddle. She entered the puddle to help them and ultimately was electrocuted by the same 480VAC downed and energized streetlight powerline in the pool. The facts discussed in this paper include vegetation management, short-circuit electrical protection, the conductivity of water and soil, human response to electrical current, sag, and tension of power lines.


“TransPowr AAAC Bare Overhead Conductor (US),” Prysmian Group. https://na.prysmiangroup.com/product-center/utilities-and-power-grids?&page=1&business_unit=6284&search_product_center=AWAC+Bare+Overhead+Conductor+(US)*&fixed_sidebar=6295&content_type=products (accessed Sept. 14, 2021).

Extreme Wind Loading, National Electrical Safety Code Handbook 250C, Sept 2021, [Online]. Available: +https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/9781118098974.fmatter.

“Effects of current on human beings and livestock,” Int. Electrotechnical Comm., Geneva, Switzerland, Rep. TS 60479-1, 2005-7.

K. Malmedal and P.K. Sen, “Structural loading calculations of wood transmission structures,” NEI Electric Power Engineering, Arvada Colorado, U.S.A, 2003. [Online]. Available: https://www.neiengineering.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Structural-Loading-Calculations-Of-Wood-Transmission-Structures.pdf.

F. den Ouden, M.P.R.M. Santos Silva, E.J. Veneklass, “Determinants of growth rate in Ficus benjamina L. compared to related faster-growing woody and herbaceous species,” Department of Plant Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2002. [Online]. Available: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304423801003156.

Total Clearing Time Current Characteristic Curves, Kearny Type K Fuse Links - Eaton, Nov 2021 [Online]. Available: https://www.eaton.com/content/dam/eaton/products/medium-voltage-power-distribution-control-systems/cooper-power-series-historical-literature/lipe/kearney-k-fuse-links-time-current-curves-k-31000ab.pdf.




How to Cite

Brosz, Helmut. 2022. “Electrocutions and Downed Powerlines: A Forensic Electrical Engineering Analysis of Causes, Reasons, and Effects”. Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers 38 (2). https://doi.org/10.51501/jotnafe.v38i2.131.