A fatal search for worms - A peculiar electrical accident

Roman Bux, Jens Amendt, Markus A. Rothschild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 32-year-old man used a self-made electrical instrument to collect earthworms for fishing. It consisted of a metal stick with a plastic handle. The stick was connected to a 10 m long wire which ended in a single-phase plug. After watering the lawn and connecting the plug to one phase of a socket (AC 220 V), he touched both the handle and the metal stick, presumably while trying to push it deeper into the soil. Through this procedure he closed the electrical circuit from his left hand to his bare feet standing on the wet lawn and was killed instantly. The autopsy revealed burn marks only on the left palm. Petechiae were found in the facial skin and the mucous membranes. The inner organs showed intensive signs of blood congestion. Toxicological analysis of blood, urine, gastric contents, liver and bile was negative. The calculated current of about 111 mA flowing through the body exceeded the range of 80-100 mA generally considered to be lethal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-245
Number of pages4
JournalLegal Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Electric marks
  • Electricity
  • Electrocution


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