Typical Electrocution Case Scenarios And Circumstances
Murdering someone is one of the most heinous and major crimes. Often the killers are very ardent to cover up crime by different methods, so there may be wrong interpretation during investigations which often leads to injustice. Hence, it is important that our keen observation and opinion should be conclusive for the administration of justice.
One of such methods of murdering someone is by electrocution. Though this happens very rarely but quite a few cases of homicide by electrocution have been noticed and out of which most of them are done in order to hide the murder and present it as a case of accidental electrocution.
Fatalities due to electrocution are intermittent; almost all such deaths are mostly accidental in nature with suicides much rarer & murders least common.
The passage of electric current through human body is capable of producing a wide range of effects, varying from inconsequential localized muscular spasm and little or no contact burns to immediate death with little or no burns or extremely severe burning.
Fatal electrocution may be divided as follows, according to the voltage involved, i.e. the source by which the victim was/can be electrocuted:
Domestic: The voltage of domestic supply varies from country to country and within the country itself. Standard domestic voltage supplied in India is usually 220–240 volts alternating current with 50 cycles per second.
Industrial: Very high voltages are involved in running heavy electrical equipment and machines. Voltages up to 4,00,000 volts may be employed in electric grid networks for the bulk transfer of power.
Lightning: The electric currents in lightning discharges have been calculated to be approximately 20–30 kiloamperes. That is, they are around 20,000 to 30,000 amperes.
Circumstances of Electrocution
A large no. of the fatalities usually are outcomes of the accidental contact with the low voltage currents (normally 220–240 volts). Accidents usually occur from a defective line, while using an electric cooking heater, room heater or inside the bathroom from a heating electric coil that, if faulty, may indict the water in the bath tub or bucket with electricity. Accidents may happen while repairing high-tensions overhead wire connections. It may occur because of short circuit in temporary wiring in a tent. Accidental ventricular fibrillation has been recorded in cases of intra-cardiac catheterization and from the site of pacemaker. Accidents have also been witnessed with the use of electric blankets, and the hazards created by these blankets which may include electric shock, burns as well as fire. Accidents due to contact with high-voltage supplies are usually seen in industries. Outside the industry, it may be encountered when an individual disregards warning signs or ignores the presence of high-voltage cables while moving some ladder or otherwise engaged in some activity in the vicinity of such cables or systems. Indirect contact with high voltage was also reported when a boy urinated on an electrified rail, the current travelled upwards through the urinary stream.
The figures below shows the clinical condition of a 26-year-old male who suffered burn injuries due to accidental fall of high voltage electric wire on his right shoulder. He tried to keep away the electric wire with his right hand and felt an electric shock.
Electrocution is a sporadic mode of suicide. The victim usually winds wire round the wrists or other parts of the body, makes their connection with the wall socket and switches it on. Normally, the apparatus is found in situation when the body is examined at the scene.
The following images depict the injuries of a victim who was a 61-year-old man. He was found by his wife unresponsive on the floor at his home bedroom, with bare copper wires encircling left wrist and neck.
Homicide by electrocution, though extremely rare, is not unknown.. Erection of electrified wires to protect property or to attach a live wire to door knobs, gates, railings, etc. to prevent theft and burglary may cause death of the intruder. At times, the victim may be murdered by other means and a case of electrocution by producing electric burns on the fingers may be presented.
Accidents have occurred in the course of investigations or treatment of patients with electrical equipment. Such iatrogenic electrocutions have occurred in the course of electroconvulsive therapy. Electrical hazards are increasing in the intensive care units, operating theatre, X-ray room or during direct electrical connection to the heart, e.g. when cardiac catheters are used for pressure monitoring, injection of radiographic contrast media or passage of pacemaker electrodes. In cardiac defibrillation, though the current flow is enormous, it is for such a brief period that it stops the fibrillating heart. The discharge must be delivered at an appropriate time during the cardiac cycle to prevent induction of fibrillation or standstill.
In some of the states in USA, the death sentence used to be carried out in an electric chair. The condemned person is strapped to a wooden chair and a metal electrode is placed over his shaved scalp and the other metal electrode around one leg. An alternative current of 1700 volts and 7.5 amperes is passed through the body for a minute or two. The current is passed through the body a second time and repeated till life is extinct. In such deaths by electrocution, it is recorded that the brain is heated up to 60° C and that vacuolation around the vessels occurs.
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