BPU worker thought electrocution call was 'prank' - KCTV5

BPU worker thought electrocution call was 'prank' to get faster response

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Nick Moeder Nick Moeder
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Utility workers didn't respond to a report of a downed power line until a man was electrocuted, and one worker openly wondered whether the report of a man being shocked was a prank call in an effort "to get us out there quicker."

The emergency calls released Friday afternoon detailed the repeated and unsuccessful efforts for 12 hours to get Kansas City Board of Public Utilities to respond to a downed power line at Rosedale Park. BPU didn't respond until Nick Moeder, 27, was killed while playing disc golf in the pre-dawn hours of June 16.

One worker even said he expected "a little backlash."

Strong storms with gusty winds moved through the Kansas City area on June 15. A power line providing electricity to the shelter at Rosedale Park was downed. The park is located at Mission Road and West 41st Street. The Kansas City Wide Open was expected to be played there on June 16.

At 4:06 p.m. June 15, a 911 call was placed.

"I'm at Rosedale Park, 42nd and Mission Road. We've got a power line down in the park causing sparks and fire."

The 911 dispatcher notified BPU. "Do you have a call of power line down at Rosedale Park?" the caller asked. The utility company dispatcher responded, "Rosedale Park by the tennis courts."

After that 911 was made, Wyandotte County parks officials kept calling BPU officials but were told BPU was busy handling other calls due to the powerful storm.

At 3:22 a.m. June 16, Moeder's friend frantically called 911. "Rosedale Park now! My friend is electrocuted. He got hit by a downed power line. Rosedale Park! Rosedale Park!"

The friend explains they are by the tennis courts. ""Come here immediately right now. I cannot get him up without being electrocuted myself, come here right now!"

The friend suffered a minor injury while trying to save Moeder.

The distraught friend hailed a cab in the area, and the driver also apparently called 911.

After that desperate 911 call by the friend, dispatchers scrambled paramedics, police officers and contacted BPU again.

Eighteen minutes after the friend's 911 call, a BPU worker was recorded saying, "We are on our way there. We were just kind of curious to get some details. I'm sure they'll be a little backlash for that."

The dispatcher wanted to know how much longer before the crews will arrive on the scene and whether an officer should call them.

"Our guys will talk when we get there. We were kind of wondering because the guys, someone from parks and rec has been calling all night, and we've been telling them we are trying to get there as quick as we can, just short handed," the male worker replies. "And we were just wondering if it was a possible prank call to get us out there quicker."

The dispatcher confirms that this is a life-threatening call.

"No, it wasn't a prank call. We have five or six officers out there now. They've confirmed the guy was electrocuted," the dispatcher replies.

The worker asks if the man is still alive. The dispatcher says the man is possibly dead, but that hasn't been determined.

A lawyer for Moeder's father said he is still investigating and that no lawsuit has been filed.

Citing pending litigation, BPU spokesman David Mehlhaff declined comment. According to a news release from BPU issued earlier this week, the storm affected 2,277 customers. The hotline received 553 calls including three about the downed line at Rosedale Park.

Altogether, crews had to make repairs to 30 downed lines and an undetermined number of broken poles, according to the news release.

"The danger and risk of downed power lines in our community are taken very seriously by our utility," according to the news release. "It is very unfortunate that we did not respond in a time frame that could have possibly prevented this tragedy."

BPU says it is "having discussions with public safety officials for better coordination between all first responders and the utility."

The news release concludes, "The safety of our citizens is our top priority and we want to do all we can that will prevent, as much as possible another tragedy like this from happening again."

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