Barbara Shelly

A preventable death, an infuriating tragedy

Updated: 2013-06-18T23:13:31Z

By Barbara Shelly

The Kansas City Star

A relative says that 27-year-old Nicholas Moeder of Shawnee was “fun-loving and full of life.” He was close to his family and had a large circle of friends.

Exactly the sort of young adult who would go out with a pal in the early hours of the morning for a round of disc golf.

There is no way Moeder could have known Sunday morning that a deadly live power line was lying on the ground at Rosedale Park in Kansas City, Kan., ripped down by the fierce gusts that blew through the area the previous afternoon.

There is no way the line should have been there, still down and unattended, when Moeder came into contact with it around 3:20 a.m. Sunday. It had been reported to authorities at least twice.

This is how preventable tragedies occur. What should be automatic doesn’t get done. In the dark, quiet hours of the morning, an unsuspecting, fun-loving young man comes into contact with a live power line and is killed by electrocution.

As reported in this story, a volunteer working at a disc golf tournament called 911 and reported the downed power line to the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department around 4 p.m. Saturday. He was told someone would be out to check. Tournament officials suspended play until Sunday morning.

When they checked on the course at around 9:50 Saturday p.m., the line was still down. This time the tournament director reported it to the Board of Public Utilities, the municipally owned utility that serves Kansas City, Kan. Jack Lowe said he called the utility three times in six minutes and left one voice message.

A closer review should tell us what went wrong. Was it a problem with procedures, or did workers not follow through with the procedures?

All that’s certain now is that Nicholas Moeder is dead and he shouldn’t be. His death is a terrible, infuriating loss.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to Follow her at

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