Safety questions arise after mother killed in electrocution - KCTV5

Safety questions arise after mother killed in electrocution

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Investigators are still working to figure out what caused a crash in Leavenworth which led to a woman's death as her friends and family turned out in droves for her vigil.

Police said 26-year-old Lachelle Kemp crashed into a power pole at Seventh and Olive streets Wednesday morning. She was able to get out of the car, but a power line fell on her, electrocuting her.

Witnesses tried to help Kemp, but were unable to do so.

The following day, a memorial was growing at the utility pole and Thursday night mourners raised lit candles to the sky in honor and remembrance of Kemp.

"Everyone just remembers her smile. When she came in the room, the first thing you see is her smile," said April Mitchell, who said she was Kemp's best friend.

"Her life touched other people's lives. She was such a fun, outgoing young lady," said her uncle, Ronald Miles.

The tragedy is raising all kinds of safety questions of how to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"All I could do was yell," said Lee Stieger.

Stieger tried to stop Kemp from walking back to her car after she crashed into the utility pole.

"There was lines down, and lines on her car and she was getting out of her car," he said.

But Kemp's two young children were inside and she started to move back toward it.

"When she hit the car, the shorted electricity just went through her, and the whole car turned into a fireball," Stieger said. "She was unconscious on the street, and another guy and I helped move her away from the car because we were afraid something else (would happen) and then an officer got her children out of the car."

The children were fine, but Kemp was killed.

The mother's two children are now staying with family members.

"It's not easy. When you are looking at the door, expecting your daughter to walk in at any time, it's something that's hard to let go of," Miles said.

Even Kemp's family pastor, who offered words of comfort during the time of grief, is struggling to make sense of it all.

"It's really hard seeing someone one day and then the next day they not be there," said Bishop Tony Caldwell.

Safety officials say there are safe ways to move around an area that may have an electric current.

"He's going to hop out of the vehicle with his arms across his body so his arms cannot come in contact with the vehicle, and you notice the main thing on this is to keep his feet as close together as possible," said Randy Van Ness, Westar Energy electrical distribution supervisor.

They then always say to keep hopping at least 10 yards clear of the car.

People at Westar said these steps are an absolute last report, like if a car is on fire.

"At all times assume it is a hot and dangerous wire and stay in the car at all costs," Ness said.

Ness had to respond to Wednesday's scene, and he hopes it's the last time as he reminds people that there are clear ways to stay safe.

"Stay calm and just try to think of what you need to do," he said.

There are also safety questions about the intersection. Neighbors said they've seen at least half a dozen serious wrecks into the pole because of the way the road splits. They said if a driver misjudges the curve, they'll pretty much be lined up with the pole.

Neighbors are now pushing to move the pole a few feet.

The Leavenworth police chief said the department will be looking into the proposition.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

The family has set up a memorial fund at the Armed Forces Bank locations in Leavenworth, KS. Those wishing to donate can inquire about the Lachelle Kemp fund at either the 615 Metropolitan Ave. or the 2901 S. Fourth St. location.

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