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Family sues PSE, saying daughter, 18, was electrocuted while tubing the Puyallup River

Posted by on Aug. 8, 2017 at 4:31 PM
KK
  • 21 Replies

Is tubing in rivers something you do at your own risk or is there really an expectation that they will be free hazards. 

Madeline Roskie was 18 and set to go off to college in the fall when she went inner-tubing with her boyfriend on a hot August day three years ago.

By the end of the day the healthy honor student was dead, the victim of a silent, invisible killer, according to a lawsuit filed by her father, Earl Roskie.

Roskie’s suit alleges that his daughter was electrocuted by an ungrounded irrigation pipe or pump in the Puyallup River and is seeking unspecified damages from Puget Sound Energy and several as-yet unnamed defendants.

Madeline “Maddy” Roskie was floating at the edge of the river in her inner tube when she suddenly felt her legs go numb, then fell unconscious and died, according to the suit filed earlier this month in Pierce County Superior Court.


Attorneys for the Roskie family say that although Maddy did not drown, they believe she was a victim of the phenomenon called Electric Shock Drowning, which they claim is a surprisingly common, and yet little known, freshwater hazard.

According to the suit, Roskie went inner-tubing in the river near the 96th Street Bridge east of Tacoma on Aug. 2, 2014.

She and her boyfriend took an initial run down the section of river and then walked back upstream to go again, the suit claims.

“While they were waiting in their tubes for another group to pass, Maddy complained that her legs were going numb. Within seconds, she became unconscious,” the suit claims.

Her boyfriend, who also experienced tingling in his fingers, floated her to shore, where CPR was started and help was called.

“Maddy Roskie was pronounced dead shortly after emergency personnel arrived. She had not experienced any blunt trauma, did not drown, and had no drugs, alcohol or toxins in her system to account for her death,” the suit alleges, adding that she was wearing a life jacket.

On Aug. 22, a Puget Sound Energy technician found that the source of the problem appeared to be an irrigation pump going into the river on a property adjacent to where Maddy died, according to the suit.

Three days later, a Pierce County associate medical examiner contacted East Pierce Fire and Rescue to express his concern that “an electrical hazard in or near the water at that location may have caused this girl’s death,” the suit claims.

The associate medical examiner had arrived at the possible explanation after eliminating other potential causes of death, according to one of Roskie’s attorneys, Kathy Goater.

That same day an operations manager from Puget Sound Energy told East Pierce Fire and Rescue that the problem had been found in an irrigation pipe and it was scheduled for repair the following day, on Aug. 26.

According to Roskie’s attorneys, PSE has not disclosed information about the pump, so the suit also lists as defendants the as-yet unidentified person or entity that owned or leased the pump and irrigation pipe, the owner of the land, the person responsible for maintaining the equipment and whoever benefits from the pump’s operation.

“An entity owning or maintaining strong electrical current wires has a duty to exercise the utmost care and prudence to prevent injury,” the suit says. “A malfunction in the distribution system that puts electric current into fresh water is an extremely hazardous condition.”

PSE did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
by on Aug. 8, 2017 at 4:31 PM
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MikeysMom22
by Bronze Member on Aug. 8, 2017 at 4:37 PM

Why were they using a tube in the water where there iwas a pump in the first place? 

Do people usually do water tubing in this particular river?

Were there no signs up about the fact that it could be dangerous going into the water there?


meriana
by Ruby Member on Aug. 8, 2017 at 6:44 PM


Quoting MikeysMom22:

Why were they using a tube in the water where there iwas a pump in the first place? 

Do people usually do water tubing in this particular river?

Were there no signs up about the fact that it could be dangerous going into the water there?


It's a popular river for tubing. Actually during hot summer weather, one can find people tubing on a lot of the rivers. It's a popular activity. There apparently were no signs about any possible danger and people really wouldn't have any knowledge of the pump and possible danger without signs being posted.

This kind of thing happens near boat docks also. Here's some interesting information about it: http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazine/2012/October/Raising-Awareness-About-Electric-Shock-Drowning.asp

Luvnlogic
by Platinum Member on Aug. 8, 2017 at 7:01 PM
Wow, something else for me to worry about in fresh water. 😬 So sad that this young woman lost her life through no fault of her own, following the rules. 😢
4evrinbluejeans
by KK on Aug. 8, 2017 at 7:06 PM


Quoting meriana:


Quoting MikeysMom22:

Why were they using a tube in the water where there iwas a pump in the first place? 

Do people usually do water tubing in this particular river?

Were there no signs up about the fact that it could be dangerous going into the water there?


It's a popular river for tubing. Actually during hot summer weather, one can find people tubing on a lot of the rivers. It's a popular activity. There apparently were no signs about any possible danger and people really wouldn't have any knowledge of the pump and possible danger without signs being posted.

This kind of thing happens near boat docks also. Here's some interesting information about it: http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazine/2012/October/Raising-Awareness-About-Electric-Shock-Drowning.asp

I have lived in this area for close to 40 years and no the Puyallup river is not a  popular river for tubing.  It's also well known for the hazards due to the strong under current as it feeds directly into the sound only a few miles from where this happened.  The dangers associated with is activity are often discussed in the local news and this particular river doesn't have parks around it that would promote water activity within it.  It is a popular river for fishing along the sand bars further east but it has never been a river for swimming or tubing in.  

Momtoone07
by Gold Member on Aug. 8, 2017 at 7:06 PM
I white water raft and we put on the rivers directly below two hydro dams. Before we can even step foot on the property, we have to sign "If you die, it isn't our fault" forms. However, I always took that if we died on the raft slide or in the rapids they were not at fault. Electrocution never crossed my mind..
meriana
by Ruby Member on Aug. 8, 2017 at 8:17 PM


Quoting 4evrinbluejeans:

Quoting meriana:


Quoting MikeysMom22:

Why were they using a tube in the water where there iwas a pump in the first place? 

Do people usually do water tubing in this particular river?

Were there no signs up about the fact that it could be dangerous going into the water there?


It's a popular river for tubing. Actually during hot summer weather, one can find people tubing on a lot of the rivers. It's a popular activity. There apparently were no signs about any possible danger and people really wouldn't have any knowledge of the pump and possible danger without signs being posted.

This kind of thing happens near boat docks also. Here's some interesting information about it: http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazine/2012/October/Raising-Awareness-About-Electric-Shock-Drowning.asp

I have lived in this area for close to 40 years and no the Puyallup river is not a  popular river for tubing.  It's also well known for the hazards due to the strong under current as it feeds directly into the sound only a few miles from where this happened.  The dangers associated with is activity are often discussed in the local news and this particular river doesn't have parks around it that would promote water activity within it.  It is a popular river for fishing along the sand bars further east but it has never been a river for swimming or tubing in.  

It could depend on what part of the river one is at. Over the years we've often seen people tubing near and west of puyallup. I have no idea how far they drift down.  (maybe I have my rivers mixed up?). Anyway no matter how many times people are warned about something, there are those who will do it anyway.

As teens we were always warned about the dangers of the Green River but what did we do? Went to what we called the sandbar and swam our horses across it. All I can say is it was a good thing our folks never found out.

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Aug. 8, 2017 at 9:13 PM
3 moms liked this

Yikes.

I'm with momto ^- if the river is accessible for use, death by electrocution would never cross my mind....other hazards within the water, currents, debris, water temps, drowning, yes, but not electrocution.

mommy_jules
by Julie on Aug. 8, 2017 at 10:14 PM
https://www.today.com/amp/health/electric-shock-drowning-what-it-how-protect-your-family-t111764

It's made headlines in my neck of the woods too many times, usually the lakes not rivers.

Quoting Sisteract:

Yikes.

I'm with momto ^- if the river is accessible for use, death by electrocution would never cross my mind....other hazards within the water, currents, debris, water temps, drowning, yes, but not electrocution.

jjchick75
by Silver Member on Aug. 8, 2017 at 10:18 PM

Let me first say, that is extremely sad that this young woman died that way and I very much feel for her family.

However when you enter a body of water, you are knowingly taking a risk. Electrocution wouldn't be your first thought but there are many other risks involved(drowning, bacteria, cuts, around here snakes...ect.). I think it was a terrible accident and no one's fault and they shouldn't get any money. The only way I would say yes they should win the lawsuit is if they can prove this company knew this was an issue and that's going to be next to impossible to prove.

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