New York

New Jersey Woman Killed by Downed Wires: Police

What to Know

  • A 26-year-old NJ woman was killed when she touched a live wire that fell onto her car as she tried to get out through the passenger side
  • A mother and daughter in the car behind the victim witnessed the incident and said the woman's elbow touched a wire and she fell and burned
  • Authorities remind drivers to stay in their vehicles if a live wire falls onto it, and wait until help arrives and power is shut off

A woman was killed when she made contact with a live storm-downed wire while trying to get out of her car in New Jersey Monday, police say. 

The wire came down on the car at Midway Avenue and Ginder Place in Fanwood as storms swept through in the late afternoon, according to Fanwood Police Chief Richard Trigo. 

The 26-year-old driver tried to get out through the passenger side and made contact with the downed wire and died, Trigo said.

The unidentified woman was the only person in the car, Trigo said.

A woman driving home with her 12-year-old daughter witnessed the electrocution. They said the rain was pouring when a tree branch snapped, taking down electrical wires. One of the cables fell on top of the victim's car in front of them.

"The wire fell on this side of the car and she went through the other door, and that's when she put her elbow on one of the wires. And that's when she fell," said the daughter, Camila Chacha.

Her mother, Eliberia Delgadillo, said she began panicking as they watched the horror unfold.

"She said, 'Mom, relax,' I can't, I can't, I saw her when she burned," said Delgadillo, who returned to the scene with her daughter later in the evening to leave flowers. 

"We just called 911, and we couldn't do anything right there -- we couldn't get out of the car or back up, we just had to look at her," said Camila. 

"It was so scary, and I never want to go through anything like that ever again," she said in tears. 

Utility companies often remind customers to stay in their cars if a live wire falls on it, especially because tires are electrical conductors -- not insulators, as many mistakenly believe. 

"It is true that you are safe in your vehicle when a live wire falls on it. But that's because electricity always seeks the easiest path to the ground," PSE&G says. "If you remain in the vehicle, the path of the electricity will be on the outside of the vehicle, through the tires, and into the ground."

"As long as we do not provide a path to the ground through our body the electricity will not enter it. So when an electrical wire falls on your vehicle, stay in your vehicle until help arrives and the power is shut off," PSE&G says. 

If you must get out because of a fire or other danger, jump clear out with both feet together, making sure not to touch any other part of the car as the feet hit the ground. Then keep both feet together and hop or shuffle at least 30 feet away. 

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