City officials say they plan to overhaul lighting system at ballfields
Faulty wiring is to blame in the electrocution death of 8-year-old DeShun Glover at the Reid Park Annex baseball fields last summer, according to a report submitted to the city by a forensic engineer.
As a result, the city has suspended its contract with the company responsible for maintaining the electrical system there, Fluoresco Lighting and Sign, said Assistant City Manager Richard Miranda.
City officials are planning to overhaul the lighting system at the ballfields and inspect 5,000 electrical “pullboxes” throughout the entire Parks and Recreation system as a result of the report. The ballfields at Reid Park have been closed since the incident occurred July 25.
An exposed wire in one of these “pullboxes,” also known as junction boxes, caused the electrical current that killed Glover, according to the report.
The report blames Fluoresco, 5505 S. Nogales Highway, for the improper installation of electrical equipment and Tucson Electric Power for a failure in its system that would have shut the power off at the time.
“The failure of the Fluoresco workmen to eliminate that hazard was clearly well below the minimum standard of care for a professional tradesman,” wrote George J. Hogge, principal engineer of Engineering Forensics Experts, LLC, in his report to the city.
A representative of Fluoresco did not return phone calls for comment.
Miranda said Fluoresco was the city’s primary contractor for electrical systems at all of its parks. It has two secondary contractors who are being asked to bid on the project to inspect the pullboxes.
Miranda estimates the cost for the inspections will be close to $1 million with another $300,000 to overhaul the lighting system at Reid Park.
He hopes the ballfields can open again in early December.
Glover was electrocuted because an exposed wire splice was touching the metal lid of a buried junction box nearby, which electrified rain water that had pooled around the junction box, the report said.
Hogge wrote in his report that the box had been filled with dirt from prior rain storms. Work crews are supposed to clean out the dirt when preforming repairs, but this was not done the last time the box was worked on, the report said.
Hogge wrote that the splice should have been pushed down into the box to avoid contact with the metal lid, but the dirt prevented it. As a result, the exposed splice was supporting the weight of the metal lid, he wrote.
According to city work orders provided with the report, Fluoresco had a crew working on the junction boxes at the ballfields in September 2007.
Hogge also states that damage to the portion of electrical equipment within a Tucson Electric Power transformer that reduces the voltage in the ballpark’s lighting system prevented the circuit breakers from tripping, which could have prevented the death.
Steve Lynn, vice president of communications and corporate affairs for TEP, said Hogge’s report contains inaccuracies that should have been corrected before being made public by the city.
He said the damaged equipment in the report is actually owned by the city but contained within a TEP box. The city has a responsibility to maintain the equipment, he added.
According to the report, the damaged equipment was reducing the voltage for the grounding wires. One of the wires had been removed, Hogge wrote.
Lynn said a TEP crew disconnected the wire after the July 25 incident as a safety measure.
Miranda said city technical experts and attorneys are discussing the report with TEP officials in an effort to iron out differences between TEP’s assertions and the report.
Some people had reported to media organizations that they had been shocked in the same area in the past while it was raining, but no reports were filed with the city, according to Hogge’s report.
However, city officials said “there had been a number of issues in the last couple of months with some lights dimming and others brighter than normal and an abnormal number of bulbs failing,” Hogge wrote in his report.
Glover was at a youth baseball game with his family when it started to rain, city officials said at the time.
Hogge said in his report that other media reported that after players and spectators sought cover in the dugout from the rain, DeShun remained standing next to the pole.
He collapsed and family ran to him but were driven back by electrical shocks. He was finally separated from the current by his father.
Calls to Glover’s family were not immediately returned.