Investigation launched in electrocution at Rosedale Park

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities and a small group of law enforcement agencies have launched an investigation into how a downed power line was left unattended until it killed a Shawnee man who stepped on it nearly 11 hours after it went down.

Multiple attendees at a disc golf tournament that was underway in Rosedale Park when the lines went down told 41 Action News that they called 911 immediately after seeing the sparking, clearly dangerous power line come down at 4 p.m. Saturday.

A volunteer at the tournament, Adam Abernathy, who called 911, said he was told by a dispatcher that someone would be sent to the scene. Play at the tournament was cancelled soon thereafter.

"It was 4 p.m. sharp and it was a two-minute call," Abernathy said. "I figured that would have been enough."

But it wasn't. Despite several other phone calls to 911 and to BPU, the line was still down and still live when 27-year old Nicholas Moeder stepped on it during a 3 a.m. game of disc golf Sunday. His game was unrelated to the tournament, and he likely had little warning that the line was down.

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Now, officials from BPU and law enforcement agencies are trying to figure out why 911 calls and calls to the BPU automated system did not generate any apparent action to repair the line.

"We are doing the investigation, as is the police department, 911, sheriff's department," said David Mehlhaff, chief communications officer for BPU. "Where did the call go to and who receives that call."

Mehlhaff said a downed line typically gets a response within 30 minutes, even during storms like Saturday's. He said it was too early to speculate on the cause of this weekend's deadly delay, but added that the investigation is proceeding even now, with some preliminary results of a review of 911 call logs and interviews with dispatchers possible Monday evening.

Melhaff said he told the victim's father that the investigation would turn up what went wrong.

"He wants answers, and I told him we're going to look to see what happened and provide those answers back to him," Mehlhaff said. "I gave him my personal cellphone number and told him he's free to call me any time."

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