Four dead after electrocutions on lakes

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Four children are dead after a pair of separate electrocution accidents on lakes in Missouri and Tennessee.

Nathan Lynam, 11, died Thursday night at Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn., Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel told The Associated Press.

On Wednesday afternoon, Lynam and Noah Winstead, 10, were swimming between two houseboats at Cherokee Lake outside Knoxville when they were electrocuted. Winstead died at the scene; Lynam was resuscitated Wednesday but died Thursday.

Five adults who jumped in the water to help were shocked as well.

Investigators ruled out electrical problems at the dock and have focused their attention on frayed wiring aboard the houseboat the boys were next to when they were shocked, Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The houseboat belongs to Nate Lynam’s grandfather, Michael Voccola, 58, of Morristown, said Matt Cameron, spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The boys were swimming near a metal ladder on the boat when the electrical current apparently hit them.

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In the Missouri accident, also Wednesday, Alexandra Anderson, 13, and her brother Brayden, 8, were killed while swimming near a private dock at Lake of the Ozarks around noon, according to published reports.

Adults standing on a dock heard screaming and jumped in the water. Police say those who jumped in felt electricity and cut off power to the dock. The adults performed CPR on the children but could not revive them, according to a report.

The preliminary investigation indicates improper wiring, and the dock had no ground fault circuit interrupter, which allowed electricity to travel into the water, according to the report. Sources could be a boat lift and/or a pump for a water slide. The Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Patrol Division is investigating.

Click here for the full report.


6 comments on “Four dead after electrocutions on lakes

  1. enginecom

    Some electrical regulations code for grounding the AC system to the boats engine. Some want the AC system isolated ground wise from parts that are electrically attached to the water. I prefer isolating the ground to the generator which should not be able to leak AC into the water. The generator should draw DC from a separate battery not grounded to the main engine. Allowing any electrical connection from an AC source to the surrounding water invites tragedies as seen here. Ground fault breakers should be used throughout shipboard AC systems. We sometimes see solid core wiring on boats. This should be avoided as a potential hazard. Always have qualified marine electricians work on high voltage wiring in a boat.

  2. Gregg Burdick

    Knowlege of drowning by electrocution has been known to our industry for many years, but the tragedies continue. There should be some interface between ABYC and NFPA with adoption standards and education (and enforcement). The time has pased; now lets catch up.

  3. Gregg Burdick

    A tragedy which should have been avoided. Many in our industry have known of drowning caused by in-the-water electrical shock for several years. It is way past time something is done, at least to let the boating public know of the potential problem. A new ABYC standard for use of ELCI triggered circuit breakers is soon to be adoped I am led to believe. Meanwhile all vessels can be checked easily and inexpensively.

    Shore facilities (docks) are governed by NFPA code, but even with the best dock wiring, the vessel is generally the problem. Compliance to ABYC or NFPA standards is not required for vessels as the NFPA code is for shore facilities, so this will primarily be an effort of education. PASS THE WORD!

    And the potential is much greater in fresh water as the person becomes the conductor. Salt water will usually dissapate the current so such a drowning is much less likely in salt water; perhaps only a tingle.

  4. John McDevitt

    The ABYC now requires a 30mA ELCI (Equipment Leakage Circuit Interupter) installed in the main shore power conductor in ABYC E-11 Electrical Systems.
    The NFPA now requires 100mA ground fault protection in the main power supply to the dock in the marina in NEC (National Electrical Code) Section 555.3.
    The boat builders and service organizations as well as electrical concerns working in the marina need to be aware of these requirements. Surveyors and local authorities also need to inspect to the rules and regulations

  5. Steve S.

    I agree that things should be done to keep this from happening. ABYC is a voluntary standard for builders and they have more and more builders adhearing to these standards. That being said, they are constantly updating the standards for just such happenings. How old is this boat? If it is more than 3 or 4 years old, they didn’t even make a ELCI for boats at that time. Is the boat builder ABYC certified? Lots of questions and easy to say it should have been. I agree that it is a tragedy, but it is also possible that the owner modified the system. You can’t always blame the manufacturer. Older boats will always have this problem until someone updates the electrical in those boats to the newest standards.

  6. Ken Simpson

    The best solution would be for the NEC to require ELCIs at every marina power outlet (the ones on the dock into which boats lug into). The ABYC requirement is voluntary, and while it is a very good idea, unfortunately you can have 11 boat at a marina that comply, but boat #12 is not in compliance, leaks power into the water, and creates a hazard.

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