Electrically Induced Deaths Involving Water Immersion

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Abstract

The diagnosis of low-voltage electrocution is aided by the presence of electrical burns. When the victim is immersed in water, however, the cooling effect of the water prevents heating of the tissues and eliminates the usual entry and exit points. Cases are described here in which electrical shock and water immersion combined to bring about fatal results. Although electrical shock was instrumental in bringing about these deaths, the actual cause of death in two of the cases was not electrocution, but drowning. The cases demonstrate the need for thorough site investigation, which will assist the pathologist at autopsy and also serve the community by preventing similar deaths at the same death scene.

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