Family of Salina shocking victim to sue the city

Published On: Feb 19 2014 05:14:17 PM CST
Update: Salina residents rush to help girl after shocking
SALINA, Kan. -

The family of a Salina girl who was shocked while playing in puddles in downtown, is filing a lawsuit against the city and an electrical company.

Jayden Hicks was playing with her two siblings and two other family friends May 29, 2013, when she fell unresponsive after coming into contact with an electrical box in Campbell Plaza. She died from her injuries Dec. 31 at 12 years old.

Her family, along with Jonni Cullison, a representative of the estate, plans to file a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the City of Salina and Hope Electrical Enterprises.

The lawsuit states Hicks slipped in a puddle of rain water, and landed on a charged, 10 inch by 10 inch electrical box. One of the children reported hearing a loud noise at the time.

The other children were electrically shocked and propelled backwards when they tried to move Jayden, the lawsuit states. They ran to a nearby business owner for help, who used a broom handle to try and move Jayden off the box.

Jayden's eyes were open, and she was unresponsive when emergency crews arrived. Crews could smell Jayden's flesh burning upon arrival, the lawsuit said.

Jayden was transferred to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis for treatment. She was then transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln, Neb. for rehabilitation until her death seven months later.

The lawsuit claims investigators found a short circuit in the electrical box that was arcing inside. This exposed electrical current to the entire junction box, resulting in the metal lid becoming electrically charged.

The Investigation also found the electrical junction box did not have a ground wire as required by all applicable electrical standards and common practice, according to the lawsuit. Jayden was shocked when she came in contact with the box because there was no ground wire.

The lawsuit quotes a master electrician with the City of Salina who admitted knowing a ground wire had not been installed. He said if crews had installed the ground wire, "every time there was a power surge, it would trip the breaker and all he would get done would be resetting the breaker.

The Hicks family said Jayden's death could have been prevented if the city had safely maintained the electrical junction box and the wiring inside.

"Jayden Hicks suffered severe, permanent, devastating and progressive injuries directly leading to her death," the lawsuit read.

The lawsuit also names Hope Electrical Enterprises for notice of defect, failure to warn and liability.

The family is seeking damages, but a specific amount was not named.

"Request judgement against the defendant in an amount which is in excess of that required by Kansas statute, together with any and all costs herein incurred and expended, and for such other relief as the Court deems just and proper," the lawsuit read.

Jason Gagem, Salina City Manager, said he has not read the lawsuit, but the city would not comment on pending litigation.