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Norwalk Hour, May 4, 2007
Updated On: May 08, 2007

Shocked electrician’s condition upgraded to ‘serious’

By NOELLE FRAMPTON

Hour Staff Writer

NORWALK

— The electrician who went into cardiac arrest after a shock from a live wire at Marvin Elementary School Wednesday afternoon had upgraded from critical to serious condition by Thursday.  New Britain resident John Albert, 34, was rushed to the hospital Wednesday afternoon after he was shocked senseless while installing a ceiling light fixture in the East Norwalk school’s kitchen and revived by emergency personnel.  Firefighters had to apply a defibrillator to Albert’s chest three times before he resumed breathing, said Deputy Chief Stephen Shay. Albert was in Norwalk Hospital’s intensive care unit as of Thursday, the extent of his injuries still unclear.  The electrician was working on a ladder near a large, stainless steel vent, with an apprentice, when he was shocked and dropped to the ground, authorities said.  It is unclear exactly how long Albert was without a heartbeat. Sgt. David O’Connor of the Norwalk Police Detective Bureau said the 911 call that a man had been electrocuted came in to headquarters at 5:12 p.m., and first responders arrived on scene within three minutes.  O’Connor said it appears there might have been a problem in the wire, because the detective’s report indicated that the breaker labeled, “kitchen area, girls locker room,” was turned off, but the wire was hot.  “It appears that, for some reason that has yet to be determined, the wire was still on.  The guy’s lucky to be alive.”  The investigation is ongoing, he said.  Albert was working for Glastonbury-based Tychon Energy Systems LLC., which specializes in retrofitting existing inefficient lighting fixtures with new energy-efficient components that optimize electricity usage while providing as much or more light, according to the company’s Web site.  Tychon Energy Systems could not be reached for comment.  The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s Bridgeport area office sent a compliance officer to the scene Wednesday, but has not reached a conclusion about the matter, said Kang Yi, OSHA assistant area director.  “At this point, I don’t know,” Yi said. “I don’t know how long it will take to complete the investigation. We have to do a lot of digging.”  Yi said the agency must interview Albert and others to get an accurate picture of what happened.  Albert’s family was notified Wednesday.  Pete Johnson, a utility specialist with the 3rd Taxing District, said Albert was working on a circuit that carried 277 volts, and that the electrician failed to shut off the circuit breaker that controlled the line.  The 3rd Taxing District provides electricity to the school, on Calf Pasture Beach Road.  Marvin Principal Myrna Tortorello said she was on the scene while OSHA and others investigated.  “I confirmed that the building was completely safe for use today, so we were able to open school feeling completely confident in the safety of the wiring and of the building,” she said in a telephone message Thursday afternoon at the close of the school day.  Tortorello said she had a brief staff meeting before school started, to apprise teachers of the incident.  “We were prepared if the students brought up the issue to respond to it,” she said, adding that she didn’t hear of any questions from youngsters.  “As far as I know the kids had a perfectly normal, settled day. Our thoughts and caring went out to (Albert) because of this terrible incident, but school went on and it was a pretty normal day.”  Asked whether something of this nature has happened before in Norwalk, Fire Marshal Glenn Iannaccone said he didn’t recall it happening in a school, “but I’m sure electricians have got jolted before. It’s part of the hazards of the job.”  Iannaccone declined further comment about the incident.
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