Wyandotte & Leavenworth

911 tapes reveal panic over electrocution

Updated: 2013-07-20T00:21:25Z

By MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

A recording of the call to 911 the morning a Shawnee man was electrocuted in Rosedale Park reveals panic and frustration in his friend’s voice as he begs for help.

Another 911 conversation, with someone at the Board of Public Utilities, indicates the agency was shorthanded, and the BPU employee asked if the electrocution call was legitimate or a ploy to bring a quicker response.

The tapes were released Friday to news outlets.

They shed dramatic light on the situation June 16 when Nicholas Moeder, 27, tripped over a downed power line and became entangled in the live wire.

The 3:22 a.m. call to 911 was made by a cab driver who apparently happened upon the scene. He passed the phone to a friend of Moeder.

“Rosedale Park, now, now, Rosedale Park!” the friend yells to the dispatcher. “He got electrocuted, he got electrocuted by a downed (unintelligible) wire... Come here immediately right now!

“I cannot get him out of there without getting electrocuted myself, come here RIGHT NOW!” the friend continues, screaming. “He’s being electrocuted to death, to death!”

The cab driver comes back on the phone and tries to explain their location.

“I understand the location,” the dispatcher says. “What’s happening there? Somebody’s being electrocuted?”

Another conversation is with a BPU employee who is asking the 911 dispatcher for more information.

“We’re on our way there. We’re just kind of curious to get some details, ’cause I’m sure there’ll be a little bit of backlash for that,” the utility employee says.

“Someone from the parks and rec has been calling all night and we’re telling them we’re trying to get there as quick as we can, just shorthanded, and we were just wondering if it was a possible prank call to get us out there quicker,” the utility employee continues.

The dispatcher tells the utility employee that it was not a prank call and that officers on the scene have confirmed the electrocution.

“OK, and he’s still alive right?” the BPU employee asks.

“I’m not sure,” the dispatcher replies.

Moeder and his friend had been playing disc golf in the dark park near West 42nd Avenue and Mission Road. Storms had swept through the area the afternoon before and knocked the power line down. It remained down for more than 11 hours before Moeder walked into it.

The BPU has called the incident a tragedy. The agency this week said it had received hundreds of service calls the evening of the storm and had crews working around the clock to repair downed lines.

BPU spokesman David Mehlhaff said Friday he could not comment on the 911 tape or add to what the utility has already said because it has become a legal matter.

To reach Matt Campbell call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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