Wade Steffey found dead - electrocution was cause of death

Wade Steffey

This poor guy went missing some months ago at Purdue. He was from my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, and attended my high school where he was two grades below me. When he first went missing, everyone who knew him said it was unlikely that he would run away, so speculation tended towards kidnapping or murder. Police and volunteers searched the whole Purdue campus and beyond for weeks, with absolutely no leads whatsoever. There was an initial intense flurry of search activity which tapered off this month, after which everyone just hoped and prayed that he would turn up alive, or if not, at least turn up at all and bring some closure.

Well, he finally turned up - FIFTY YARDS from where he was last seen alive.

He had accidentally touched a transformer in an electrical power room and was killed instantly. His body remained in that room for TWO MONTHS before anyone found him.

How the fuck was the door to that room not locked?

Why on earth was the room not MARKED AS A HIGH VOLTAGE ROOM? Fucking air conditioners and heating units outside residential homes have prominent warnings, accompanied by pictures of a burst of electricity with a menacing face that used to scare me as a kid knocking a stick figure backwards. And yet this room, which contained devices powerful enough to kill a full-grown young man immediately upon contact, was not marked at all, let alone with a specific warning about the danger?

Purdue University is about to be hit with some major, major lawsuits, which they richly deserve.

Aside from that, if there’s one thing to be learned from this incident, it’s: for God’s sake, people, be careful.

There was no kidnapper or murderer on the Purdue campus, no serial killer or sexual pervert. Wade Steffey was killed by something as mundane as an electrical transformer. It may seem paranoid, but yes, there are things all around us that could potentially kill us. Cars, trains, shop machinery, construction equipment - stuff that we all interact with on a daily basis could be deadly if we’re not careful. So, please, take that extra second and think before you do something.

Are you sure he wasn’t pushed into the transformer by a scorned ex-lover? :dubious:

I watch too much CSI.

Sorry about the news. At least his death was quick.

Curiosity killed the chicken? My sentiments to his family and friends.

I’m at Purdue. There were massive search parties, and a hotline to call to give police permission to search your property. It was spooky, because there aren’t many murders here… the last case I can think of is the two Korean girls who were killed with a hatchet in their dorm room. There wasn’t much mystery surrounding that case…

Anyway, my point is, I don’t understand why no one smelled him before now.

I guess it’s a boy’s dorm. That’s why.

Hell. Straight to hell… not only for you but those around you that may have contributed to these thoughts and tasteless jokes.

:eek: :stuck_out_tongue:

Good God…when did THAT happen?

98 or 99. The girls were sisters. One of them worked in a biology laboratory with the murderer–he was upset that her research was going better, or something. After the murders he took off in a car, and was finally caught out West somewhere.

August of 2001

Curses, foiled again.

While, I agree that the door should have been locked, and warning signs posted, I do have to say this. Every big ass transformer I have ever been near had a look that said don’t touch, and an evil hum that I think is electrise for don’t fuck with me.
What kind of doorknob reaches out to touch a gazillion volt transformer? I vote Darwin award winner.

He could have stumbled into it or something. Who knows how it happened? The point is, it would have been avoided with a lock on the damn door or a warning, preferably both. There were neither. Now there are two parents who will never see their son again, and a whole community of kids who have lost a friend.

News report I read said it did look as if he tripped and fell. Also said the door required two keys for entry. And that the kid was intoxicated at the time, and was trying to get back into the dorm to retrieve his coat.

I’m really sorry to hear about your friend, Argent. It makes my flesh crawl to think how easily something like this could have happened to me or people I knew in college. I don’t know if anyone knows at this point how the door came to be unlocked, but if Steffey just found it unlocked, then he just made a tragic error in (drunken) judgment.

And I don’t want to be out of line here, but Autolycus, are you listening?

Thanks for the kind words. I didn’t know the guy very well but some of my friends were very close with him. The community as a whole has felt the loss. I feel so bad for his parents, every time I see them on the news. They seem like great people, and I can’t even imagine how they must feel right now.

Every year it seems like someone I went to school with dies, and more often than not the cause is some kind of reckless behavior - driving or riding a motorcycle too fast and carelessly, drowning in the lake after drinking too much - things that could have been avoided with more caution. But Steffey did not seem like the “I’m young and invincible” type, not in the least. Even if he had been drinking, I think whoever left that door unlocked and unlabeled is more at fault than he was.

I’m against over-eager litigating, and there’s no substitute for common sense, but I do think this incident calls for a lawsuit. The proceeds could establish a fund for Aviation students in Steffey’s name.

The bacteria got fried too? At a guess. No intestinal bacteria = no rot, basically.

I’ve seen many a “double locked door” that was always left open, or with the keys in the locks. Just open is more frequent. Machines that had been designed to need two operators (or both hands) but which had been twiddled to require only one? Quite a few. Safety systems don’t work right unless you use them properly, just like anything else. Very drunk guy + open door + humming machine that looks like nothing he’s ever seen before = funeral.

Argent, my condolences to you and his family. :frowning: What a senseless tragedy.

What kind of a piss poor search team did they have out there if he was found 50 yards from where he was last seen? A month of searching and nobody canvased an area the size of a football field from where he was last seen? Really?

Perhaps that old joke about the Purdue Engineering Department botching the library job isn’t so far off the mark.

My thoughts exactly. They had trained dogs, police officers, and many volunteers, and yet two months of searching turned up nothing. The body was discovered by accident.

In a room that someone had actually looked in, no less. From the press conference it’s not clear just how closely they looked, though. Apparently you couldn’t see where he was from standing in either doorway. What a nighmare for his parents. You could tell his dad had been crying, and his mom looked totally numb.

Even though he died instantly, it’s heartbreaking that he was right there in that building the whole time. I feel the same way Rilch does. It seems easy to imagine his state of mind that night too. He could have been thinking of how cool it was going to be to have a story about how he ninja’ed his way in. Maybe he got shot down at the party and was just fixated on getting his coat back so he could call it a night. Either way, he probably didn’t even know what hit him. I’m under the impression that this could have just as easily happened to a facilities worker accidentally bumping the equipment while passing through the room for some mundane reason.

Looking at the Purdue news site, there’s also a headline about another student who got killed in a car accident. Never ends, huh? :frowning:

My bosses daughter goes to school there and she knew him - he told me about this yesterday. So sad… :frowning:

Oh–and my study buddy from psychology shot her husband dead. Once in front as he faced her, once in the back as he lay dying. She wasn’t a Purdue student anymore when it happened, though.


Got my hands on a copy of the Purdue Exponent and found my answer to why he didn’t smell: electricity was running through him the whole time. He was found when a janitor heard a “popping” noise in the room.