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how could this happen #182487 11/28/08 06:14 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 47
sbi Offline OP
this is the story of a 5 year old old boy that died on thanksgiving.his parents only lived 3 miles from me and I knew his grandparents. I am just wondering what happened to all the safe guards on transformers.

Five-year-old electrocuted at Mishawaka apartment complex
MISHAWAKA Police said they believe a child died Thursday when he crawled into an electrical transformer and was electrocuted.

Mishawaka Assistant Chief Mike Samp did not release the boy's name. He said the boy was 5 years old.

Samp said the boy managed to get into a transformer box at the Williamsburg on the Lake apartment complex and was apparently electrocuted when he grabbed onto electrical circuitry inside the box.

Samp said a further medical evaluation on the cause of death is expected this morning.

The accident happened not long after 5 p.m.

Samp said power in that apartment complex, the Carriage House apartment complex and the surrounding area was turned off so police, firefighters and utility workers could safely investigate the accident.

The transformer box was near the line between the Williamsburg on the Lake and Carriage House complexes.

link southbendtribune

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Re: how could this happen [Re: sbi] #182505 11/29/08 06:45 AM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
pdh Offline
Direct link to article for later days when it won't show on the front page:

Re: how could this happen [Re: pdh] #182506 11/29/08 06:52 AM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
pdh Offline
Kids are curious. If the padlock has been broken off, and the kid is strong enough to lift the cover/door, this is a real problem. I'm surprised it hasn't happened more often. Really young kids will wonder why it hums, not knowing that means danger.

I have to assume the lock was broken in this case. Or maybe it just didn't get locked properly one day (I've seen that happen with padlocks). So who has the responsibility to check these on a regular basis? It might be hard to point blame somewhere.

Maybe they need to be made with a locking mechanism that is harder to break. The smaller single phase pad transformers I've seen are locked with a padlock. Maybe some kind of recessed key lock system is needed, instead.

Re: how could this happen [Re: pdh] #182509 11/29/08 12:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
Zapped Offline
A horrible tragedy, made worse by the fact that this sort of thing is completely avoidable by service personel practicing due diligence.

I wonder how many people noticed that the lock was missing or broken but figured it was not their responsibility to contact the POCO, or figured, "what's the worst could happen?".

Some mistakes can never be erased. Condolences to the boys family.

Re: how could this happen [Re: Zapped] #182521 11/29/08 07:32 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
pdh Offline
There apparently was an "investigation" taking place. I hope they discovered the true and genuine facts. Hopefully it focused on whether the lock was accidentally left unlocked, or was vandalized. If the former, lawyers will be on the job for the next about 3 years.

Re: how could this happen [Re: pdh] #182524 11/29/08 08:28 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,379
Trumpy Offline
This is just awful.

Padlocks are one of the easiest forms of security to defeat and they also have the problem that sometimes, people forget to close them again or they rust and fall to pieces.

For a room that has live, bare terminals in it, why is there not a stainless steel combination type dead-lock on the door?, at least when the door is closed, it is locked automatically.

Some may say that it would cost too much to use these locks, but how much money do you put on the price of the life of someones child?

However, at the end of the day, IMHO, some of the blame needs to come down to the parents for not adequately supervising the child either, I mean how did a kid get anywhere near an installation like this in the first place?

Last edited by Trumpy; 11/29/08 08:29 PM. Reason: Typo's
Re: how could this happen [Re: Trumpy] #182531 11/29/08 10:39 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
pdh Offline
The story said transformer box. I'm assuming it is one of those pad mount transformers. One big apartment complex I used to live in had a large three phase one per about 5 to 8 buildings. Another big apartment complex I used to live in had one smaller single phase one per building. A small child could possibly squeeze into one. Maybe he was curious why it was humming (is something alive in there). Maybe he thought it was a nice hide-and-seek place.

[Linked Image from]

[Linked Image from]

Last edited by Trumpy; 11/30/08 03:13 AM. Reason: To add pics from Electrical Photos. com
Re: how could this happen [Re: pdh] #182539 12/01/08 01:31 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 300
maintenanceguy Offline
This is a tragedy. I've got two kids, one a little younger and one a little older. I feel for the parents.

Maybe somebody really was negligent. But sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes kids get away from the most responsible parents. Sometimes you push the padlock shackle in and it stays in but really wasn't locked.

I'm just always uncomfortable when something awful happens and the response is to start looking for somebody to hang.

Re: how could this happen [Re: maintenanceguy] #182605 12/04/08 04:10 AM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
pdh Offline
And this just reminded me of an incident I had with a storage garage (well, smaller than a garage, but they had garage sized ones there). I hadn't been there for over a year. I came to get some stuff out and could not open the padlock at all. The key would not turn (and I was sure I had the right one). I bought another padlock and contacted the manager to assist in having the old one removed (their policy was any time a padlock was to be broken for reasons like this, contact them so they know it's going on). The manager came out to help with monster bolt cutters in tow. But the first thing he did after trying the key (which didn't work for him, either) was just grabbed the lock by hand and pulled hard on it. It popped right open. He said that often happens when they are weathered bad enough that the key won't work.

Now I doubt a small kid would have the strength or confidence to do that. But possibly some teens might have done something like that, or used some other tools to gain entrance, and left the disabled padlock there, or removed it entirely. We just don't know. A very thorough investigation might have fingerprinted the entire transformer box, but especially around the lock(s), and worked to rule out each print found.


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