Teenage Woman Dies from Electrical Current Piping Submerged in River

Photo of Brant Stogner

In 2014, an 18-year-old woman, Madeline Roskie, died when she was electrocuted while inner-tubing on the Puyallup River in Washington State. The family of the deceased woman has sued Puget Sound Energy ("PSE") for wrongful death.

While PSE would not comment on the particulars of the suit filed against it, a local news outlet provided a copy of the family's lawsuit, which provides an account of Roskie's death. The lawsuit alleges that she [Madeline Roskie] and her boyfriend were floating a section of the Puyallup River and while the two were waiting in the water for another group to go by, Madeline told her boyfriend that her legs were going numb and lost consciousness almost immediately. Madeline was pronounced death shortly thereafter.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Officer ruled the cause of Madeline's death as undetermined. However, in the weeks following her death, the Pierce County Associate Medical Examiner contacted East Pierce Fire and Rescue, expressing concern that an electrical hazard in or near the water at that location may have caused Madeline's death.

That same day, PSE's operations manager told the fire department that there was an irrigation pipe going into the river, which would be immediately removed. In the meantime, East Pierce Fire and Rescue told emergency crews that they should stay 50 feet away from any pipes going into the river. It was soon discovered that the pipe in question was attached to an irrigation pump and that PSE reported finding a "280v to ground issue" at the pump, which created an electric current in the section of the Puyallup River where Madeline was electrocuted. This discovery formed the basis of the Roskie family's wrongful death claim.

The Roskie family has also added the owner or lessee of the irrigation pump and pipe, along with the land owner where the pump and pipe were installed, the person responsible for maintaining the equipment, and the beneficiary of the pump's operation. However, until those people are identified, they are listed in the suit as John Doe defendants. Up to this point, PSE has refused to identify the owners of the equipment.

Madeline graduated high school with honors and planned on becoming a trauma nurse. Unfortunately, her life and aspirations were cut short due to her untimely death.

If you or someone you know has suffered the death of a child, parent or spouse due to someone else's negligence, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584.

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