How could the fatal Put-in-Bay electrocution happen?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Investigators with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Watercraft Division are trying to determine how a 19-year-old Dublin, Ohio man was killed in a bizarre electrocution accident on Put-in-Bay.

According to a preliminary report, the incident happened Friday night around 6:30 pm after the Currie family docked their boat at the Miller Marina on Langram Road on the island. The boat was plugged into the dock when the family dog fell into the water and was struggling. The boat's owner Jeffrey Currie jumped in to fetch the dog but he also started to struggle. That's when his two sons jumped in to help, they too began to have difficulties swimming.

Currie's wife was on-board the boat and bystanders told her to unplug the power. As soon as she did the electrical current stopped and Currie and his sons were able to get back on the boat.

Evan Currie, 19, was unresponsive and convulsing, according to officials. He was given CPR and transported to the mainland where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators said an electrician checked out the dock and everything was normal. Investigators will take the boat, a 33 foot Sea Ray Sundancer, back to the dock and recreate the scene in hopes of finding out exactly how Evan Currie died.

How could this happen? 

The more we talk to marina experts the more the tragedy at Put-In-Bay Friday night seems a mystery.

"I grew up swimming in marinas, I always knew it could happen but it never did," said John Schroeder, owner of Happy Days Boating in Port Clinton.

We used Schroeder and his knowledge to ask the question how could this happen and even he admitted he was baffled. We talked in generalities as to not speculate about Friday's accident.

Shore Power

Schroeder said when boats are docked they need to plug in to recharge batteries. While docked they also use this power to run things on the boat like lights and even air conditioning in bigger boats, which means boat need to be properly grounded. Most boats are grounded to what's called underwater gear, meaning anything that's under the boat, so the prop of the motor or other equipment, he said. That way if a boat was ever hit by lightning, or the water was electrified, the electricity travels through the boat and into the water -- not the people on the boat.

Stray Currents

There are also things called stray currents in the boating world. Schroeder calls these low, static currents because maybe some other boat isn't properly grounded. These are usually low level currents, not enough to cause a massive electrocution.

Jeff Currie said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) examined his boat and everything checked out and it was properly grounded. The Miller Marina has said the shore power box has also been checked out by an electrician and has checked out.

Schroeder said because this case deals with water, some metal boats and electricity, nothing can be ruled out -- meaning ODNR's investigation could be very difficult.

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