KSC grounds crew member dies of electrocution

A Keene State College employee died Saturday, April 19, near the Owl’s Athletic Complex. The Keene Fire Department said 46-year-old Nate DeMond was electrocuted by a hanging power line near Martell Court in Keene.

Officials said when emergency responders reached the scene, DeMond had already died.

KFD units arrived to the area near the Owls stadium around 2:20 p.m. and saw an adult male near a high-voltage line. They also confirmed there was an active brush fire near the body. Crews were unable to safely reach the victim at first because he was close to high voltage, a press release  by KFD stated.

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor

Arthur “Bud” Winsor, assistant director of Physical Plant — Grounds said he believes the accident could have occurred while DeMond was watching birds close to the fields. “The last contact my guys had with Nate [DeMond] was when they took a lunch break. Nate [DeMond] told them he was going bird-watching until they had to come get the fields ready for the next game,” Winsor stated.

But according to Ella Nilsen and Kyle Jarvis of the Keene Sentinel, college officials later confirmed DeMond had offered  to help Campus Safety find a downed wire that had been reported by a Keene State College student.

Winsor explained the Grounds crew is not expected to respond to any electrical damage. Moreover, he stated, “The wire that was down [near the fields] was nothing we would have taken care of, not even the professional electricians from the college. That’s something PSNH [Public Services of New Hampshire] would take care of.”

A campus alert notification by KSC President Anne E. Huot stated the accident, “appears to have occurred while he [DeMond] was working outdoors on campus, as part of our Physical Plant staff.”

Campus Safety Director, Amanda Guthorn, said KSC officers responded to the scene of the accident when they learned about the hanging wire. Guthorn said an alert was immediately sent to prevent students from approaching any dangerous areas.

Officials said when they found out about the incident, the fire department dispatch notified PSNH. At press time, The Equinox was not able to reach anyone from PSNH for comment.

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor

Nilsen of the Sentinel indicated Chief Forensic Investigator, Kim Fallon, said the N.H. Medical Examiner’s office ruled Monday that DeMond’s cause of death was high-voltage electrocution and determined the manner was accidental.

The Equinox was not able to reach anyone from the N.H. Fire Marshal’s office for comment.

KSC junior and resident of Monadnock Court, Olivia Chiacchia, said her home had no electricity that afternoon. “The power went down, but we didn’t know why.  We didn’t call the Public Services either,” Chiacchia said.

KSC senior and softball player Ellissa Coburn was at the Owls Stadium when the incident occurred. “We didn’t see anything because we were playing, but we found out when the first game ended,” Coburn stated. She said her coach gathered the players, parents and public on the field and informed them about the incident. “The athletics director [John Ratliff] had approached our coach and told him what happened. He told us he had probably stepped in water and got electrocuted,” Coburn said.

Eric Trazinski, 21, sat at the bleachers near the softball field when the fire began. He said, “There was a really strong smell. I could also notice that there were ashes flying in the air… it was a very windy day,” Trazinski  said. Trazinski  noted there was a significant amount of water near the soccer field. “There was flooding because of the ice that has melted in the area where the wire was hanging,” Trazinski said.

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor

Kelly Ricaurte, KSC media relation manager, stated the accident is still under investigation.

DeMond was a member of the Grounds crew and had worked for the college for 14 years. According to the KSC website, DeMond was a KSC alumnus; Class of 2009.

Huot expressed her condolences through a public email. “Speaking on behalf of the College, we extend our deepest condolences to Nate’s [DeMond] family and friends during this very difficult time,” read a campus-wide notification by the president. Huot stated college officials will share information about planned services to remember DeMond with the campus later.

Winsor stated, “Nate was an amazing employee, he was really dedicated and meticulous.”

Both Guthorn and Winsor said DeMond was a great asset for KSC. Winsor recalled, “Nate was the person that set up every single chair before each year’s graduation ceremony. He will be greatly missed.”


Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at kbarriga@keene-equinox.com

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