July 15th, 2011 by Thea
The city of Seattle agreed to pay $11,000 earlier this month to Lisa McKibbin and Nancy Bostdorff, the owners of a dog that was electrocuted after stepping onto a charged ground-cover plate on Queen Anne Ave N on Thanksgiving Day, according to a report by the Seattle PI.
McKibbin and Bostdorff filed a $60,000 claim over Sammy’s death back in March, claiming physical, emotional and monetary damages. Sammy was a 6-year-old German shorthaired pointer.
McKibbin had been walking Sammy when he stepped on and was killed by 90 volts of “stray voltage” on a sidewalk ground-plate cover. The tragedy prompted an investigation at Seattle City Light, which found that four area streetlamps, including the one that killed Sammy, had been improperly grounded by a private contractor back in 2006. City Light responded by conducting a first-ever inspection of all 37,000 streetlights and associated equipment citywide. By the time the inspection concluded in January the utility had found and repaired 56 sites with elevated voltage.
According to the PI report, as per the terms of the agreement, the city will now post contact voltage “safety messages” on the Seattle City Light website, and is also expected to post a link to a page on electrical safety from a Toronto utility.
The owners’ attorney, Adam Karp, told the PI that McKibbin and Bostdorff “congratulate the city on taking preventative steps to protect the public from future hazards.”
Read the full story at the Seattle PI.
Tags: Adam Karp, electrocuted dog, electrocution, Lisa McKibbin, Nancy Bostdorff, Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle City Light, Seattle PI, streetlight inspections, Thanksgiving, Utility
February 15th, 2011 by Thea
Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco will present the final report on the recent testing of more than 37,000 streetlights and associated facilities citywide to the Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee of the City Council tomorrow, Wednesday, February 16.
Testing began back in December after the Thanksgiving Day death of a dog that was electrocuted by an energized metal plate covering a streetlight vault on Queen Anne Avenue N. This was followed up by reports of other potentially dangerous energized streetlights and groundcover plates.
City Light crews and contractors hired for the inspections identified a total of 56 instances of contact voltage that measured at least 30 volts across the city, including the location here in Queen Anne. In addition to discussing the testing process, Carrasco is expected to outline the utility’s plans for ongoing inspections, testing and maintenance.
The Council Committee meeting starts at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16 in the Council Chambers at Seattle City Hall, located at 600 Fourth Ave. A media briefing will follow at 3 p.m. in the Bertha Knight Landes Room. Specific questions will be addressed during the briefing.
Tags: City Council, contact voltage, electrocution, energized metal plates, energy, groundplate covers, Jorge Carrasco, media briefing, report, Seattle City Light, stray voltage, streetlights, Technology and Civil Rights Committee
December 30th, 2010 by Thea
During continued inspections of 20,000 metal streetlights and connected equipment throughout the city, Seattle City Light discovered and repaired two more streetlights giving off contact voltage this week, the utility announced in an inspections update released yesterday. No one was injured in either case. Here are the details of each instance:
- Tuesday night, Power Survey Co. (PSC), one of two contractors hired by City Light to help inspect all 20,000 metal streetlights and associated equipment, discovered a faulty streetlight near the intersection of Second Avenue and James Street. Old wiring had deteriorated, sending about 35 volts of electricity into a nearby mailbox, parking meter and bike rack. City Light crews immediately cut power and made repairs.
- About 10 a.m. Wednesday, a customer called City Light to report a suspicious streetlight in her Blue Ridge neighborhood. The woman’s dog had yelped when it approached the pole and a friend’s dog had shied away from it.
A City Light crew responded immediately and measured 48 volts of electricity on the pole near the intersection of NW Blue Ridge Drive and NW 100th Street. Workers determined that the photo cell that turns the streetlight on and off had melted, shorting out the pole. They cut power and completed repairs by 12:30 p.m.
City Light began a systematic inspection of metal streetlights citywide after a Queen Anne dog, Sammy, died due to stray voltage on Queen Anne Ave N on Thanksgiving day. While originally believing the incident to be isolated (caused by a pinched wire and improper grounding), it was later discovered that the city lacked proper inspection records at that site and at others around town. As of last week City Light had identified and repaired six energized streetlights, including the one that killed Sammy. The two sites discovered this week brings that total up to eight.
City Light is contracting with two other companies to complete the inspections. On Tuesday Power Survey Co. completed inspections in about 20 percent of the Downtown area, while the Davey Resources Group has so far inspected 125 streetlights around Seattle Center/Lower Queen Anne. Last week City Light crews completed inspections in Seattle Housing Authority developments, including those in High Point, GreenBridge, New Holly and Rainier Vista. No other potentially dangerous sites were identified.
Tags: Davey Resources Group, electrocution, energized, inspections, Power Survey Co., PSC, Sammy, Seattle City Light, stray voltage, streetlights
December 7th, 2010 by Thea
After Sammy, a German short-hair pointer, walked onto a electrified metal cover on Queen Anne Ave on Thanksgiving Day and died, many more stories of animals sustaining injuries from “stray voltage” on city streets have come out.
The accident was the result of a pinched wire and bad electrical work (including a lack of grounding), according to City Light, in an area of the electrical system that powers four streetlights in the 1500 block of Queen Anne Avenue N. In the two weeks since Sammy’s death, the city has been working to find out why this dangerous zone went unnoticed for so long.
“Our crews investigated the cause. We discovered that the original installation in 2006 did not include proper grounding of the four lights. Our crews have made the necessary repairs to all these lights and tested for any potential electrical charges. There is no electrical charge to any of the lights or groundcover plates. All the streetlights are functioning,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said in a release last week.
While City Light officials said the accident was an “isolated incident,” the faulty work that caused it may have passed unnoticed due to a lack of inspection records, according to a report by the Seattle PI released Monday. From the PI:
A city invoice showed that an inspector had billed for the electrical project twice in 2005, when the system was installed, said Richard Sheridan, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation. But no record exists documenting what the inspector did or found during the visits.
“At the time (the project was installed), we did not require written field reports from electrical inspectors,” Sheridan said Monday.
After Sammy’s death, the city discovered the pinched wire and missing grounding. Sheridan says the department is still investigating how the lack of grounding was overlooked by the inspector back in 2005, a difficult task given that it’s been several years and the project inspector has since retired.
Since July the department’s inspectors, all “highly qualified” certified electricians, according to Sheridan, have been required to document inspections of private-public improvement projects in a field report. But in a few weeks City Light will take over the inspection process, a decision the department says was made in an effort to streamline the system. Read the full story at the Seattle PI.
Tags: City Light, electrocution, Richard Sheridan, Sammy, SDOT, Seattle PI
December 1st, 2010 by Thea
Seattle City Light has issued a release in response to the tragic death of Sam, a neighborhood dog who was electrocuted and passed away after stepping onto a metal plate on Queen Anne Ave N on Thanksgiving while on a walk with his owner.
Sammy’s owner and Queen Anne resident Lisa McKibbin and her mother Nancy Bostdorff were heartbroken over the ordeal, and have taken to spreading awareness about stray voltage in city streets in the hopes of preventing future accidents involving pets, children, and adults.
In an open letter from Seattle City Light released today Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said the following:
On Thanksgiving, a dog was electrocuted on Queen Anne Avenue when it came into contact with a metal plate covering some electrical wires for four streetlights. This was a tragic incident and devastating for the family that owned the dog. We are truly sorry for their loss of a beloved family member. I want to assure the public that as soon as City Light was made aware of the situation, we responded by de-energizing the electrical service.
Our crews investigated the cause. We discovered that the original installation in 2006 did not include proper grounding of the four lights. Our crews have made the necessary repairs to all these lights and tested for any potential electrical charges. There is no electrical charge to any of the lights or groundcover plates. All the streetlights are functioning.
We want the public to be assured that this was an isolated incident. We are researching our records to determine whether there are similar lights elsewhere in our system. If we find there are, they will be inspected and any necessary repairs will be made immediately.
Despite word from City Light that repairs have been made to insure the safety of this particular groundcover plate, for Lisa and Nancy this is hardly enough.
“For four years these lights have not been grounded! Doesn’t anyone know the ABCs of electricity?” Nancy wrote to QueenAnneView.
Since we first reported the story on Saturday, the comments have erupted with condolences for Lisa and Nancy, and stories from fellow community members and pet owners who have experienced similar incidences in Queen Anne and elsewhere.
“I used to live back East, and every winter there were certain street corners that every dog seemed to avoid. My 100 pound beast would buck and fight if I tried to go near it. At first I thought he was just being stubborn, but about a week after his strange behavior, a dog in DC died from electrocution on the same corner. I learned to trust my dog,” Dana wrote.
Stories of these types of accidents are, unfortunately, nothing new. In January 2004 a 30-year-old woman in New York City died after stepping on a metal plate that had been electrified by a faulty underground cable. Her father took to fighting the hazard that took her life. Read that story in the New York Times archives here.
And here in Seattle the incidences, though not as horrifying as Sammy’s story, are pouring in. One reader, in fact, says their dog was shocked at the same site.
“It turns out our Labrador was once shocked on that same block. She yelped and moved, and my husband tried to check for stray voltage, not sure what had happened, but couldn’t tell what the problem was. Now we know for sure what happened,” Neens wrote.
“The day before Thanksgiving my oldest son (30) and his friend were walking my dog in West Seattle when he stepped on the same type plate and started writhing and yelping. He fell over and my son thought he had stepped on something sharp, possibly even been scared by the cold metal on his paw. After a few moments our cocker spaniel, Max, was able to stand and they brought him home. Since this, he has been limping when he walks a great deal and is very timid when he goes for walks. After seeing the news story tonight, we knew what had made Max fall over and act so strangely,” Sue Wilhelm wrote. “I applaud you for getting the word out about this “unseen” danger that we all come upon every day on our city streets. What a tragic way to be educated though. I shudder at the thought of this happening to any other person or pet.”
Lisa doesn’t think Seattle City Light’s response is enough either. “I don’t think Sam’s incident was “an isolated incident” as described by SCL,” Lisa says. “I still attribute his death to contact voltage which is defined as:
Contact voltage is caused by power system fault current as it flows through the impedance of available fault current pathways. The voltage we are trying to define (i.e. contact voltage) is only present when a power system fault exists (e.g. compromised insulation). The fault may be a very high impedance fault with very little fault current actually flowing, but it is still a fault, and still capable of creating measurable voltage between conductive surfaces that people or their animals may contact. This is true regardless of the type of power system (e.g. grounded, un-grounded, etc.). Clearly both the level of contact voltage and the amount of fault current will change when a person or animal makes contact, but this guide should be about the detection, evaluation, and mitigation necessary to avoid a potentially lethal exposure.
Lisa says she plans to continue her efforts to bring awareness, ensure public safety, and work “very hard to see that this type of tragedy will not happen again.”
“I have been receiving blog entires from people who say their dogs have received shocks from other parts of the city. John, owner of Oslo’s, now believes his dog was electriaclly shocked just one day prior to Sammy’s death. Oslo thankfully didn’t have the same fate, but was still affected. John showed me his boots, after stepping on the sidewalk to pick up Oslo after he was convulsing and screeching, the heel is completely shot, rubber sole has been melted and cracked! Oslo was about 25 ft from where Sam died, after what is now believed to be electric shock. John had no idea, much like me, this is why I need to spread this awareness and not fear, just awareness.”
A representative from Seattle City Light will be at the Queen Anne Community Council meeting tonight to discuss this tragedy further with the community. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the McClure Middle School cafeteria. Take a look at the agenda here.
Tags: electrocution, Lisa McKibbin, Nancy Bostdorff, Sammy, Seattle City Light
November 27th, 2010 by Thea
Queen Anne resident Nancy Bostdorff and her daughter, Lisa McKibbin, have just lost a beloved friend—their dog Sammy. While walking Sammy along Queen Anne Ave N on Thanksgiving Day, he was tragically electrocuted. The unpredictable accident upset his family, and inspired them to help inform residents in the hopes of preventing other animals from being killed in the same way.
“He was walking along QA Ave, near Bricco, my daughter stepped aside to let another dog pass, and moved onto the electric plate near a lamp post. He started screaming and went into convulsions, and died. We took him to the emergency hospital, where they gave him CPR for 30 minutes, to no avail. Seattle PD cordoned off the street, and Seattle City Light cut power to the block to investigate. I just don’t want anything to happen to another dog,” Nancy Bostdorff wrote. “It is so painful.”
“The metal lamp posts may be leaking electricity, or there could be faulty wiring in the power plate that is not visible to walkers. I witnessed my dog being electrocuted, needless to say, it was excruciatingly painful for him and for me to watch. He died instantly. When I stuck my hand in his mouth I felt a shock from the electric waves emanating from his mouth. My poor baby!” Lisa wrote.
According to Lisa, electrical leakages on city streets are more common of an occurrence than most people realize.
“My mom and I would just like to spread the word out there, bring awareness to people to be extremely cautious of the possibility that the metal lamp posts on the Ave (or anywhere for that matter) could be leaking electricity, as well as steel plates on the sidewalk possibly having faulty wiring underneath the surface. We just don’t want to see any more victims, adult, child, or dog of this terrible hazard. This is a horrible horrible tragedy and should not happen to anyone else and their dogs,” she said.
Nancy and Lisa shared their story with Dr. Spencer at the Queen Anne Animal Clinic, who they say is planning to hold a meeting with fellow vets to discuss this deadly hazard. The family also filed a police incident report, which Lisa says they will be following up on this week.
“The police and Seattle City Light had shut down the power on the block and were checking the area,” she wrote. “We hope to find out if there was faulty wiring, leaking electricity, etc., next week.”
In the meantime, Nancy and Lisa offer a couple of resources on electrical leakages, termed “stray voltage”, which are unfortunately often only discovered after a pet has been lost. Read more about how to prevent your dog from becoming a victim of electrical shock on the street, and how to protect pedestrian, children and pets from such accidents.
Lisa is also starting a blog on Sammy’s behalf. “I want to cover the prevention of electrocution and dogs. I am learning not many people are aware of this, back east it has happened quite a bit, perhaps because they get much worse weather than we do, but lately we’ve been hit hard by Mother Nature,” she wrote. “Maybe together we can spread the word and save lives.” You can visit Lisa’s blog here.
Update: Seattle City Light has responded to the story here.
Tags: electrical leakages, electrocution, Lisa McKibbin, Nancy Bostdorff, pets, Queen Anne Ave., Sammy, Seattle City Light, SPD, stray voltage