Claim: A tourist was electrocuted while crossing a street in Las Vegas.
Origins: Las Vegas, Nevada, is a desert town, hot and dry. Daytime temperatures in July and August are in the hundreds, sometimes climbing to the hundred-and-teens. Rain, when it does come, often arrives in torrents that quickly build to flash-flood proportions.
On Saturday, 16 August 2003, a 39-year-old mother of four met the Grim Reaper while doing nothing more remarkable than crossing
electrocuted in mid-stride when she stepped on a cast iron plate on a traffic island. The plate, which
covered electrical wiring feeding traffic signals, had been soaked by a heavy downpour and was obscured by a puddle several inches deep, residue of a recent unexpected storm which swept the area.
Officials suspect that a combination of frayed wiring, dampness from the sudden storm, and open-toed shoes worn by the victim combined to deliver the electric shock that snatched a life without warning. The box that delivered the fatal charge had not been inspected since it was installed in late 1995 or early 1996; over the years thousands of pedestrians have walked across that wiring box, and the tread of many shoes on the plate may have worn down the insulation of the wires concealed therein to the point of dangerous exposure.
Clark County officials estimate Las Vegas has about 16,000 of the same type of traffic signal boxes. They announced they would begin inspecting the other boxes on the
Ms. Longhoffer was making her first trip to
Barbara “shocking” Mikkelson
Last updated: 19 January 2007
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.