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Remembering Jodie Lane

at the southwest corner of East 11th Street & 1st Avenue

On January 16, 2004, Jodie Lane was walking her dogs in the East Village, where they began to act erratically around the corner of 11th Street and 1st Avenue (about a block away from GVSHP’s offices).  When Jodie went down to investigate, she received a fatal dose of electricity coming from a metal ConEd junction box that had shorted in the sidewalk.  The event shocked people all over New York City and led many to believe that the incident could have been prevented had Con Ed taken stricter safety measures. Soon the Jodie S. Lane Public Safety Foundation was created, a “non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to improve pedestrian safety and prevent people and pets from being electrocuted, shocked or injured as a result of stray voltage.”

Con Ed workers repaired the junction box that killed Jodie Lane, 20 minutes after an ambulance took her to the hospital. Image courtesy of the Villager

In memory of Jodie and this unfortunate incident, her fiancé Alex Wilbourne gathered over 3,000 signatures and enough community support to have the block renamed for Jodi.  In May of 2005, Wilbourne’s dream came true when the new street sign for Jodie Lane Place was revealed.  The Villager described his journey:

He said when he’d gone before Community Board 3 — by chance on her birthday — to make his pitch for their support for the street co-naming, he realized it was an “unorthodox naming.” Jodie Lane wasn’t the sort of person who usually gets a street sign: she wasn’t a hero in the usual sense — like a police officer or firefighter who fell in the line of duty — or a poet or a musician. But the outpouring of support was tremendous.

L: a photo from the Villager article announcing the street sign unveiling, Councilmember Lopez and Lane’s family members and fiancé pull off the wrapper to unveil the new sign.  Photo courtesy of Q. Sakamak; R: Jodie Lane, photo courtesy of EV Grieve.

Losing your pet or your life is a terrible tragedy, regardless of the time of year.  Given the extra risk of encountering electrified patches of street and sidewalk due to the salt and snow, we encourage everyone to be cognizant of where they and their pets step, in the Village or anywhere else in NYC.

3 responses to “Remembering Jodie Lane

  1. The problem should be resolved and it has not been properly analyzed. This problem exists only in North America, the most developed part in the world. How do we allow this? Everyday it becomes worse.

    1. Andrew, The problem is a misunderstanding of the purpose and proper use of grounding and bonding. Electricians and Engineers do not understand the topic well. Other parts of the world do not have the same electrical systems and they are not as old (corroded) as ours.

      Without getting too technical, if an area is not connected to the electrical source (Electric Company), it sends some amount of current into the earth. Then the voltage between different systems to earth is not the same and is not zero. If the area is connected by a wire to the source, in the event of a connection of a circuit to a metal part, the wire takes the fault current back to the circuit breaker and trips the circuit breaker. Connection to the earth only will not trip the breaker because the resistance of the earth is too high. This causes people to be shocked by a man hole cover.

  2. So sad that a person lost their life over stray electricity! And so young, with so much life ahead of her. Never should have happened. We had our own mysterious stray electricity issue a few years ago, in an in-ground salt water pool in an extremely rural area. Enough current to produce unpleasant skin sensation, and still present even after the electricity coming in to the place was shut off at the electric box! No neighbors within a quarter mile, and even then, they are on the other side of a creek. Property at the end of an electric line, with no electric service beyond that point, for several miles in 2 directions. No industrial equipment nearby. Perhaps it was somehow “leaking” from the power poles carrying electric service to the place? Or maybe the phone line? Never did find out what was causing it, but since the pool was old, very leaky, and past the end of its natural lifespan, we had it demolished and filled in. No more tingling. Sometimes I still worry a little that there might still be electricity humming down in the dirt beneath our feet….

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