Have You Been Injured? We're Ready to Fight for You.

Electric Shock Drowning: A Silent Killer in the Water

Published on Jul 11, 2017 at 6:07 pm in Personal Injury.

The parents of a 15-year-old electric shock drowning victim are speaking out in an attempt to warn others and bring awareness to this rarely reported phenomenon.  Carmen Johnson was swimming near her family’s Alabama lake house in April of 2016, when electric current traveled from a light switch on the dock, through the water, and paralyzed her body.

Carmen and her friend were jumping into the water from the top level of the boat dock.  Her father, Jimmy Johnson, lowered a metal ladder into the water so the girls could climb out.  Just minutes later, he heard his daughter’s friend scream for help.  He jumped into the water and immediately felt the piercing electric shocks.

Johnson began going in and out of consciousness, but yelled to his wife standing on the dock to “cut the power off’.  He and his daughter’s friend survived, but his daughter, Carmen, did not.

Johnson later found a light switch at the dock that was half full of water.  When he placed the metal ladder into the water, the electric current traveled from the light switch to the ladder and into the surrounding water.  As the girls began swimming towards the ladder, in somewhere about the 5-to-10-foot range, they started to feel like they could not swim.

Recently, two women went sunbathing on a Friday afternoon near a house on Lake Tuscaloosa.  Their bodies were retrieved from the lake early Saturday morning.  The Tuscaloosa Homicide Unit told a local CBS News affiliate that preliminary autopsies show the cause of death was electrocution.

How Common is Electric Shock Drowning?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day about 10 people in the United States die from accidental drowning.  Electric shock drownings, however, are difficult to track.  Carmen’s father admits he would have never known what happened to his daughter had he not jumped into the water and felt the shock himself.

“There is no visible warning or way to tell if water surrounding a boat, marina, or dock is energized or within seconds will become energized with fatal levels of electricity,” says the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association.  Experts say that even a low level of electric current in the water can be extremely dangerous or fatal to a swimmer.  The phenomenon is especially dangerous in freshwater, where the voltage will likely take target and travel through the human body.

What Can Swimmers Do to Prevent Electric Shock Drowning?

Johnson and his family now work closely with the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association to educate swimmers and encourage the practice of these safety tips:

  • Use a plastic ladder, instead of a metal ladder, that will not help transfer electric current through the water.
  • If you start to feel a tingle in the water, swim away from the dock, which is where most electrical issues occur.
  • Check all of the electrical wiring around your dock, including the ground fault circuit breaker.
  • Purchase a Dock Lifeguard device that detects electricity on your dock and in the water around your dock.

Every homeowner and business has a responsibility to make sure the water around their dock is safe for swimming.  Failure to do so can put innocent lives at risk.

The legal team at Thomas Law Offices is dedicated to making the people of Kentucky aware of potential dangers involved in any activity.  Knowledge is often the first step towards prevention, and it is our desire to spread awareness and share safety tips with as many Kentucky residents as possible.

If someone you love has been the victim of electric shock drowning, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation of your case.  If someone else’s negligent behavior caused the accident to occur, a Louisville wrongful death lawyer can help your family recover damages and hold those at fault responsible.

Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

Legal & Firm News

Types of Medical Malpractice

Like most major cities, Chicago and its suburbs, such as Mokena, Skokie, Orland Park, Naperville, Arlington Heights, Calumet City, and others, are home to many doctor’s offices, urgent care facilities, and hospitals. While many medical providers at these facilities successfully treat patients’ presenting concerns, poor outcomes occur.

Read More

Illinois Nursing Home Regulations

Illinois nursing home regulations exist to keep older and vulnerable adults residing in nursing homes safe, healthy, and protected from harm. Our state government has established a comprehensive system of laws to protect care facility residents, recognizing that nursing home abuse and neglect is a very real and serious problem.   Thomas Law Offices in Chicago, […]

Read More

Tad Thomas Interviewed About Sexual Assault Cases on WAVE Listens Live!

This week, Tad Thomas of Thomas Law Offices was invited back to join John Ramsey on WAVE 3 News during his Listens Live! segment which airs weekdays in Louisville. In August, Tad was interviewed on the segment about senior care facilities and how family members of residents in facilities can help protect their loved ones. […]

Read More
Tad Thomas on The National Crime Victim Bar Association
National Civil Justice Institute - Trustee
Tad Thomas on Lawyer Minds
Tad Thomas on American Association for Justice
Southern Trial Lawyers Association
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Ohio Association for Justice
Kentucky Justice Association
Fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America
Martindale Hubbell Preeminent
2021 Public Justice Member
AAJ Masters of Trial Law: Champion