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Don’t Touch My Third Rail!


A recent nominee for the Darwin Awards:

An Indiana man died overnight, after coming into contact with the electrified third rail as he urinated on the Purple Line ‘L’ tracks in Evanston.

The man was at the South Boulevard Purple Line stop around 11 p.m. Sunday with two other people when he came into contact with the third rail, according to CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis.

The man, Zachary McKee, 27, of Ossian, Ind., was pronounced dead at Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston at 11:52 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

It turned out that the man had climbed down to the tracks to urinate when he fell onto the third rail, according to a news release from the Evanston Police Department.

Authorities have not said whether the man urinated on the third rail.

One of the two people the man was with ran down stairs to the booth at the entrance at the station and alerted the security guard on duty to the situation, Lukidis said. The security guard then called Evanston Police and Fire officials.

And yes it’s tragic… doesn’t mean it wasn’t stupid. Mythbusters dealt with the “peeing on a third rail” idea awhile back. They said no, but as I recall their test was a bit dubious.

And as a refresher…

7 comments to Don’t Touch My Third Rail!

  • Dr. Schplatt

    They tested this twice on Mythbusters and both times it seemed to me they tried every way possible they could to get it to work and they couldn’t.

  • Kit

    He may have touched it.

    • Kit

      Ok, that came out naughtier than when I imagined it in my head.

      “You know you say things in your head and they sound fine.” -The Doctor

  • Mrs.Make.Do

    Why would it not work on the third rail, when it works on an electric fence?

  • -fritz-

    Water conducts electricity. If one is grounded, a steady stream would conduct the death current. Seems like a “Well duh” to me!

    • Dr. Schplatt

      According to experiments performed “steady stream” is the key. When dropped from a certain height, liquids will separate into droplets as they fall rather than one steady stream. So, there is not a steady stream from the ground to the uh..source.

      I’m hoping that explains it to Mrs.Make.Do as well. An electric fence (which I know from personal experience will shock you in this situation) is a lot closer and the liquids haven’t separated yet.

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