Leitersburg man dies after shock, fall

May 15, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

see the enlargement

Man shocked, falls

A Leitersburg man died Thursday night at Washington County Hospital hours after aluminum siding he was installing touched a wire and he fell nearly 40 feet from a ladder, officials said.

John Nehemias, 40, of Little Antietam Road, died at 7:10 p.m., according to Beth Kirkpatrick, hospital spokeswoman.

Cause of death was undetermined. An autopsy was scheduled for today at the medical examiner's office in Baltimore, said Tom Wetzel, Washington County Forensic Investigator.

An employee of Arrow Spouting Service of Hagerstown, Nehemias was installing aluminum siding at a 21/2-story duplex at 809 and 811 Salem Ave. when the accident occurred at about 3:15 p.m.


He was standing at the top of a ladder holding a piece of aluminum siding when the end of the siding touched an electrical wire that runs from a pole along the side of the home, according to Hagerstown Fire Captain Kyd Dieterich.

The electricity arced to the house through the siding, leaving a black spot on the home and shocking Nehemias, Dieterich said.

He fell onto a paved alleyway below the ladder.

The wire with which the siding came into contact carries 7,900 volts of electricity, said Dave Burgan, distribution superintendent with Hagerstown City Light.

City Light employees inspected the wire and found a burn spot where the siding made contact, Burgan said.

Home owner Doris Rudisill, who has lived in the Salem Avenue house since August 1963, said she was lying on the couch facing the window Thursday afternoon.

"I heard a big boom and the lights flickered and the TV went off. Just about that time, sparks came down - a lot of sparks - then I saw the man fall down," Rudisill said.

Bill Cosey, who rents one side of the house, said he was inside watching television when the lights went off.

"I heard a zap. It sounded like something hit the wall," he said.

Choking up as he recalled the chain of events, Robert Socks said he was working below the ladders when his co-worker fell to the ground.

Socks and other workers at first believed Nehemias had come into contact with an electrical wire coming from the house.

After turning off the electricity in the home at the circuit breaker, firefighters ripped away the siding around the charred spot but didn't find any exposed wires.

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