Melting snow, salt and stray voltage combined for a deadly incident in Brooklyn, as a dog died and a man was injured while walking on a Brooklyn sidewalk Monday evening, police said.
The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on Bell Slip, near the intersection of Clay Street and Commercial Street in Greenpoint, as the dog was on a walk. Witnesses said a sharp squeal could be heard coming from the dog.
Fire officials confirmed that the canine, a 4-year-old named Lala, had stepped onto a metal plate, and was electrocuted by stray voltage emanating from the grate. Con Edison came to inspect the scene, and found it was not a grate that was built or maintained by them, but said they were familiar with incidents like this happening in the past.
Lala's owner, Lida Bilokur, is grappling with the sudden loss.
"I'm still just shocked. Doesn't feel real at all," Bilokur said of the loss of her emotional support dog.
Lauren Green, a friend of Bilokur's, was the one taking Lala out for the walk when the incident occurred.
"When we were walking over this area, she just started screaming and just fell over immediately," said Green. "I've been running through what I could have done differently and like, coming back here, I don't think there's much I could have done."
It can often happen after a major snowstorm, as the salt used to melt the ice seeps underground, which erodes the cables. That then frees an electric current, which can lead to dogs being shocked while walking over metal grates and manholes.
Witnesses said there was a gallant attempt to save Lala, with one person running out of a nearby dog training class to attempt CPR after the owners went in for help. Despite those efforts, fire officials confirmed that the dog died as a result of the shock.
A man placed a cone on the metal plate after the incident, and in doing so was shocked. He went to the hospital Tuesday morning to get checked for his injuries. The metal plate was later removed with the area blocked off.
A spokesperson for One Bell Slip, the property responsible for the portion of the sidewalk where the incident occurred, said that "as a result of this week's winter storm, an underground electrical wire was inadvertently exposed to snow and salt which caused a temporary live charge in a metal plate on the ground. Immediately after learning of this and the accident it caused, we worked with the City and Con Edison to fix the issue."
Bilokur said that she isn't satisfied with the response, saying that she doesn't want what happened to Lala to happen to any other person or pet.
"There's dogs dying and people in the hospital, and no one has taken accountability," Bilokur said. "I just want someone to take responsibility. Keep the area safe."