Man, 19, electrocuted in Severna Park

Worker falls into hole with live wire

July 21, 2008|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,Sun Reporter

A 19-year-old contractor for Baltimore Gas and Electric died Saturday night after he fell into a hole he had dug in Severna Park and came into contact with a live power line, Anne Arundel County police said.

Thomas Kikas Jr. of Middle River, an electrician trainee with Riggs Distler and Co., was restoring electricity to four homes in the 200 block of Berrywood Drive when he slipped and fell into a hole, about 3 feet deep, where a cable was leaking voltage, according to the president of Riggs Distler, a BGE subcontractor.

Kikas was unconscious when he was pulled from the hole by a co-worker and a witness, who both attempted to revive him. He was taken to Baltimore Washington Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The accident occurred around 10 p.m. Saturday, police said.

The eldest of seven, Kikas was home-schooled and received his diploma from the Christian Home Educators Network, said his mother, Michele Kikas. She said her son loved playing drums and working as a volunteer firefighter for the Bowleys Quarters Volunteer Fire Department.

"He was a great big brother," she said.

As much as he enjoyed firefighting, he also enjoyed electrical work. He was a full-time trainee with Riggs Distler, headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. He joined the company in January and had recently passed the test completing the first part of his training and was moving on to the next stage, said the company's president, Leo Sniger.

The company is investigating the accident. Sniger said Kikas was wearing protective, fire-resistant clothing with rubber gloves, but it was not a full-body suit. He also said the high temperatures Saturday could have contributed to the accident, as perspiration conducts electricity.

Kikas and his co-worker, a qualified electrician, were trying to fix an outage caused by the failure of an underground power cable, Sniger said. They had located where the cable had failed and was leaking voltage into the ground and had dug a hole to expose the line.

The two employees were working side-by-side to make the repair when the co-worker turned around and, in that moment, Kikas slipped and fell.

Sniger said the company has never had an employee die in such circumstances. Several years ago, an employee died after coming into contact with an exposed overhead power line - the only other death Sniger was aware of in the company's 99-year history.

Michele Kikas said the company has offered to pay for her son's funeral. "We're trying to do as best we can," she said.

stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

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