Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Docks with Bad Wiring Prove Fatal; 3 People Have Been Electrocuted in Past Week at Lake of the Ozarks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Docks with Bad Wiring Prove Fatal; 3 People Have Been Electrocuted in Past Week at Lake of the Ozarks

Article excerpt

LAKE OF THE OZARKS - Terry Walters watched as his three grandchildren swam and fished off a dock Monday, just a few miles from where three people have been electrocuted in the past week while swimming near docks.

Walters, a resident of the Lucky Point community in Rocky Mount, said the dock his grandchildren were on does not have electricity running to it. "If it did, I would make sure to have it checked out after this," he said.

The most recent electrocution victim is Jennifer Lankford, 26, of Hazelwood, who was swimming Saturday with her two stepbrothers, 11 and 13.

Lankford was electrocuted when she touched a dock that apparently had faulty wiring, said Sgt. Paul Reinsch of the Missouri Highway Patrol. She was pulled from the water and given CPR, but died later at a hospital.

The boys felt a tingling in the water and swam to another dock, but they were not hurt.

Lankford was with family members, including two other adults. The dock is among a few owned by the family, Reinsch said, and the cove is home to private docks and cabins. Family members declined to comment Monday. Funeral arrangements are pending at Stygar Mid Rivers Funeral Home in Cottleville.

Reinsch said the Highway Patrol is encouraging dock owners to recheck the wiring on docks every year.

"Have docks professionally checked on a routine basis, even if you have proper wiring installed; make sure the GFI (ground fault interrupter) is working properly," he said.

The electrocution occurred at Dry Branch Cove in Morgan County on the lake's 5-mile marker about 7:45 p.m. Saturday, three days after two children from Ashland, Mo., were electrocuted while swimming at the Gravois Arm.

"This particular one is very similar to the last one," Reinsch said. "Improper wiring on the dock."

Alexandra Anderson, 13, and her brother Brayden, 8, died after coming into contact with electricity while swimming at the lake on the Fourth of July. Reinsch said anyone who feels electricity while in the water should swim to another dock.

He said the three deaths this year are unusual.

"It's been several years since the last one," he said. "It's a rare thing. For some reason, we're having more."

But how frequently swimmers are being shocked is not information released to the public.

In 2010, utility companies were ordered to inform the Missouri Public Service Commission when a customer is seriously injured or killed, or if property is significantly damaged, by an electrical problem.

The new policy also broadened the definition of electrical contact to include arcing and other electrical phenomena. Under the old policy, the term meant direct contact with electrical equipment, and utility companies did not have to report incidents involving electric shocks if the company believed the shock happened on the customer's side of the meter. …

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