2011.08.18

Mancelona Michigan Teen Victim of Stray Voltage Swimming in Marina

Michael Scott Knudson, 18, of Mancelona, Michigan died as a result of receiving an electric shock from stray voltage while swimming at the Duncan L. Clinch Marina in Traverse City, Michigan.

A preliminary investigation reports that the source of the stray voltage which caused the electric shock to Michael Knudson emanated from an electrical line carrying electrical power to a section of floating dock.  Evidently, the electrical line had a short circuit which for an unexplained reason did not trip the circuit breaker carrying power to the dock. 

Media reports suggest that Michael Knudson was swimming with at least one friend, who also experienced an electric shock from the stray voltage emanating from the dock at Duncan L. Clinch Marina.  A thorough investigation should reveal whether the teens were even aware that there was an apparent restriction against swimming in the marina, and whether the postings were adequate to afford the teens warning of the dangers of swimming in a marina.  Stray voltage in fresh water marinas are a well-known hazard in any boating community.  It will be worth knowing whether those overseeing the marina enforced the no swimming prohibition they claim was in effect at the time of this accident. 

Additional considerations for the investigators will certainly also focus on the short in the electrical line, how it occurred, whether it was due to neglect in maintenance or failure to inspect, or some other cause.  Circuit breakers are designed to trip in the event of a short circuit and there is sufficient reason to investigate the issue of a faulty or improperly installed circuit breaker as a cause of this tragic incident. 

Do marinas do enough to prevent the public from swimming in marinas and educating them concerning the potential hazards involved?  These and other questions must be answered to avoid another tragedy such as occurred in Mr. Knudsonā€™s case. 

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