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Teen Electrocuted, Killed by Downed Power Line

When storms happen, downed power lines can put everyone at risk. Recently, a Taylor teen was electrocuted and killed by a fallen line. Learn how to stay safe and protect your children from the dangers of electrocution.

Storms swept through Metro Detroit on Saturday, July 8, 2016, dropping power lines. All together, about 60,000 DTE customers in and around Wayne County lost power. But one family had it harder than most.

Austin Wohlfeil, a 16-year-old sophmore at Taylor High School in Taylor, Michigan, was electrocuted and killed because of a downed power line. He spotted smoke in his back yard. A fallen electrical line had started a fire. He rushed to put out the fire with a large water gun.

A jolt of electricity knocked Austin and his older brother to the ground. Taylor police say it is unclear whether the power line made direct contact with either brother, or if the electricity arced to them. The older brother survived, but Austin died of his injures later that day.

DTE offered condolences to the Wohlfeil family and is investigating the incident.

When electrocution happens, it is almost always because of someone or some company’s negligence. When a power company fails to repair or maintain its power lines, the result are all too often fatal.

No one should die because of a downed electrical wire, but this case is particularly tragic because it involved a teenager. Don’t let your children become the next news story. Follow these safety tips to protect you and your family:

  • Make sure young children know what power lines look like, that they are dangerous, and that they should tell an adult if they ever see one on the ground.
  • Stay back – at least 20 feet away – from downed power lines.
  • Don’t touch any power line, regardless of whether it is low-hanging or on the ground.
  • Don’t drive over downed power lines. Your tires won’t protect you.
  • Don’t assume a line is safe just because it is on the ground and not sparking or moving.
  • Get to safety. Go inside or away from the wire as quickly as possible.
  • Call for help. Use 9-1-1 or call the power company directly to report a downed wire.

If you must exit a vehicle you think may be charged, jump completely clear. Don’t touch the ground and the vehicle at the same time. Once you are away, shuffle your feet to avoid an electrical shock.

Electrocution accidents are far too often fatal. Do your part to protect yourself and your family from danger. If a power line does start a fire, get to safety and call the fire department. Don’t try to handle it yourself, or you could be risking your life.

David Christensen is a personal injury attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He has experience with electrocution injuries and can help compensate your family for your loss. If you or a loved one has been injured by a downed power line, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.