Dad Never Thought A Dock Ladder Would Kill His Daughter


The parents of an Alabama teen who reportedly died from electrical shock drowning after jumping into a lake are now raising awareness about the phenomenon.

Carmen Johnson, 15, went to Smith Lake in Winston County, Alabama, with her friends on April 16, WBRC reports. Her dad Jimmy was working on the dock when he heard Carmen jump into the lake. After a few minutes, another one of her friends joined her in the water.

Jimmy never suspected that when he lowered the dock ladder into the lake for the girls to climb up, it would be the biggest mistake of his life.

A 120-volt alternating current "leaked" into the water and electrocuted Carmen, causing her to fatally drown, the Dayton Daily News noted.

According to Jimmy, the electrical current was sparked by the metal ladder he had lowered into the lake, WBRC reports. The phenomenon – which only lasts a moment -- is referred to as electric shock drowning (ESD) and occurs when a swimmer comes into contact with an electrical current.

The father said he jumped into the water and tried to save the girls, but immediately felt electricity run through his body. Jimmy was able to save Carmen’s friend, but unfortunately, it was too late for his daughter. He screamed to his wife Casey, "Cut off the power to the boat dock!" before he blacked out.

The day Carmen died was the first time the family had been in the water since Christmas Day in 2015. The couple said it took divers around two hours to retrieve Carmen’s body from the lake.

Earlier in April, Jimmy had reportedly shown Casey that the power switch for the dock was located near the back door. If Casey had gone to the other side of the house near the breakers, everyone in the water probably would have died, he said.

According to the Johnsons, an electrical box on the boat dock became filled with water, sending an electrical charge through the metal on the dock. As soon as the metal ladder went in the water, it transferred the electricity from the dock into the water.   

Now, the family is using their daughter’s death to raise awareness about ESD.

The Johnsons are encouraging people with docks to buy a product called Dock Lifeguard, which can detect electricity in the metal and in the water up to 40 feet. It was created by a Missouri man after someone he knew lost her two children to ESD.

Jimmy said he plans to sell Dock Lifeguard in combination with his audio/visual business in Decatur, Alabama.

Sources: Dayton Daily News, WBRC / Photo credit: Mad World News

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