A 34-year-old woman, while in the shower, died of electrocution due to electrification of the metal jacketing of the electric water heater and its plug
The police found a 34-year-old woman lying naked on the bathroom floor of her rental housing. The doctors announced her death on the scene. The police failed to detect proof of struggle at the crime scene. However, they found a potentially risky layout of shower devices, i.e., the electric water heater and its plug were inside the bathroom, near the head of the shower. Moreover, the metal plumbing and showerhead lacked any insulation. Additionally, the electrical shower device was not earthed.
Since the bathroom was highly humid during the shower, there was a high risk of the electric water heater’s metal jacketing becoming easily electrified. Subsequently, the current circuit was available from the electrified jacketing to the metal plumbing, shower head, and the victim standing on the ground.
External examination revealed 4 suspected electric marks on the dorsal side of her right hand. The marks, which were round to oval, measured 1.9cm×1.4cm, 0.5cm×1.0cm, 1.0cm×0.4cm, 0.8cm×0.4cm, respectively. Moreover, the lesions had raised borders highly suggestive of typical electric marks.
One of the lesions revealed localized exfoliation. However, there were no other fatal injuries on the body. Histopathological analysis of the lesions showed localized exfoliation; detachment and comb of the epidermis, called “gaseous cavitation”. It also showed epithelial cells and cutaneous appendage cells which were hyperchromatic, elongated, and compressed, showing a “stream of nuclei.” Moreover, the dermal collagen was swollen and homogenized, with increased eosinophilic staining.
Internal examination on autopsy revealed congested internal organs. Toxicological analysis of specimens obtained from the blood, urine, and stomach contents ruled out poisoning. With all the above findings, the cause of death was accidental electrocution.
Pathak AK, Disania NL. Pattern and seasonal variations in death due to electrocution: A retrospective study. Int J Med Sci Public Health. 2015;4(1): 19-22.