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Possible electrical shock caused man to drown swimming in Monongahela River in Washington County

NEW EAGLE, Pa. — It is believed that an electric shock caused a man to drown Sunday in Washington County near where boaters were gathered to celebrate the Fourth of July.

James DeAngelo, 23, of Venetia, was swimming in the Monongahela River near a boat docked at the Beach Club Marina in New Eagle when he was found unresponsive Sunday evening. He was pulled from the water around 7:30 p.m. and taken to Monongahela Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:18 p.m.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the drowning, but say that a possible electrical shock could be the culprit.

Officials said DeAngelo went under the water and didn’t surface. A friend then put on a life jacket, and jumped in to search for him. That young man, also 23 years old was transported to the hospital where he told officers he felt like he had been horribly shocked.

DeAngelo graduated from Peters Township in 2016 and attended Cal U last year, played hockey and, according to his family, was hoping to soon marry his longtime girlfriend.

“He was a roommate of one of my good friends from high school,” boater Dustin Koenig said of DeAngelo.

Koenig was out on the water on Sunday night and had heard there was an emergency at the marina.

Investigators will await the results of an autopsy before making a determination into DeAngelo’s death.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is now warning of what they call this hidden danger in fresh water. They say there is often unrecognized electrocution danger near freshwater marinas

There have been approximately 80 fatal cases nationwide.

If people or pets swim in fresh water that is electrified by boats or other machinery leaking voltage, they can be electrocuted.

ESD can be prevented. Here’s how:

  • If an Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter (ELCI) is installed on any vessel that is leaking voltage, it interrupts the electrical circuit and keeps electricity from leaking into the water.
  • If a marina where a boat is headed or docked is equipped with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) breaker. Even a tiny amount of electricity like 10 milliAmps of current can trip the GFCI and stop any electricity from entering the water.

Above all else, the U.S. Coast Guard and Auxiliary urge water enthusiasts to please be wary of swimming in fresh water near a marina; unless they know for sure that the marina has installed GFCIs to prevent ESD events. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed, civilian component of the United States Coast Guard and assists the service in nearly all of its missions, except for military operations and direct law enforcement actions.

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