Death by electrocution
Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2008,
Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, of Shaler, was a senseless victim of our misguided misadventure in Iraq. But it was not an IED that took the Green Beret's life in Baghdad on Jan. 2. It was an electrocution - a very preventable electrocution.
Maseth, 24, died in the shower, his heart stopped by a power surge that traveled along pipes and water, caused by an improperly grounded electric pump. And Maseth was not the first to die at a U.S. facility in Iraq because of shoddy electrical work.
According to a government report, at least 13 other American soldiers and civilians have died and 19 have been injured in Iraq since 2003 while taking showers, swimming in pools or doing basic maintenance with power washers.
It's easy to blame the faulty Chinese electrical system involved in Maseth's death or to pin blame on defense contractor KBR Services, which operates the military bases where the electrocutions occurred.
But the ultimate responsibility rests with U.S. military leadership. In 2004, after five soldiers were electrocuted, an Army report urged that experts inspect all electrical systems in Iraq.
Tragic accidents happen in war. But Sgt. Maseth's death mocks the definition of "accident." That he and others died because of something as rudimentary as "improper grounding" is not a shame. It's criminal negligence.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.