Urinating father electrocuted

A father-of-three was electrocuted on a holiday with his three teenage sons in Saint Lucia when he touched a bare wire as he urinated, an inquest heard.

Martin Ellis, 68, died while sheltering from the rain at a hut in a restricted area near a dam while exploring the island.

He told his sons he was going to relieve himself behind the hut – and suffered a massive electric shock from exposed electrical wiring in galvanised metal piping, St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard.

His son Lucian, 19, also suffered a shock as he attempted to drag his father’s body away from the side of the hut.

The court heard workers gave the family directions to the dam and a security guard did not stop the group even though the dam area was restricted

There was only a single warning sign obscured by foliage and a knee high chain blocking the route.

In a statement Lucian said: ‘It was the last day with the car, we were due to fly home on the 20th at around 9am.

‘We went to visit a rum distillery and bird reserve and the national park, we went to the distillery first.

The eldest son tasted some rum but said the father ‘definitely didn’t.’

‘We then went towards Millet and area where the national park was,’ the son continued.

‘We asked a man for directions for the bird reserve who told us to follow the signs for the dam.

‘We reached the dam wall to the right and walked up metal steps to the top and onto the dam wall to the view.’

It started to rain heavily and the group took refuge in the hut.

Mr Ellis went to the back of the hut to urinate and his sons heard him shout out seconds later.

‘Tristan went around the hut and saw dad lying face down in the mud both hands at his side,’ the statement continued.

‘Shouting his name I started to pull at him and immediately felt an electrical shock.

‘I pulled on his arms and took a shock.

‘I started CPR although I realised that dad had no pulse.’

Phil Peart, an AXA insurance investigator, said: ‘Martin Ellis was on holiday in St Lucia with his three sons aged 19, 16 and 14.

‘Whilst on the island they visited the dam.

‘During this visit it started to rain heavily and they took shelter in the building on the right side, adjacent to the dam.

‘Martin told them he needed to urinate away to the right of the building and touched metallic piping attached to the dam wall containing electrical wiring.

‘His sons discovered him face down in the mud lying between the hut and the dam wall. Lucian pulled his father clear of the area.

‘Lucian stated that whilst receiving electric shocks himself he found him unresponsive and without a pulse.

‘Emergency services arrived and pronounced him dead.’

Senior Coroner Mary Hassell gave a narrative conclusion and said: ‘There have been very significant gaps in this inquest brought about by the inability to call certain witnesses.

‘Most of all was the report of the chief electrician, I have no idea if ever that report would be coming, it seems to be better to proceed without it.

‘There are parts of Martin’s death I think are very straightforward given the two post-mortem reports stating he was electrocuted, that was medical cause.

‘Other parts are much more difficult, he was electrocuted by live wiring, I don’t know why live wire was exposed in that way.

‘Regarding access to the dam, although I have not heard evidence orally, I have taken their evidence into account in terms of documentary statements and evidence that I have read into evidence, that notwithstanding I find Martin Ellis’s son to be a truthful and compelling witness.

‘There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if there had been appropriate signage warning the public not to visit the dam then Mr Ellis and his family would not have visited the dam.

‘They would not have ignored this, instead the sign was covered in foliage, there was a knee high chain across the road and workers who simply gave directions.

‘I am going to put all that as simply as I can to put that in a narrative conclusion, prevention of future deaths report to the High Commission.

‘Martin Ellis died on the 16th of August 2019 from cardiac arrhythmia and electrocution.

‘At approximately 4pm local time on the 16th of August 2019 Martin Ellis was electrocuted and immediately killed at the Sir John Compton dam in Saint Lucia by exposed live wiring in galvanised metal conduit.

‘The reason for it being exposed at this time is unclear. Martin Ellis was visiting the dam with three teenage sons. There was one water and sewage sign indicating it was a restricted area.

‘It was old and covered by foliage, so was not visible to Martin Ellis and his family, once inside there was a knee high metal chain, they assumed this was to block cars from the steep access road, not a warning not to visit, construction workers gave them directions and the four tourists waved at security guards.’