Man electrocuted creating wood artwork in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 14, 2019

Shutterstock image

ST. CLAIR SHORES — A man died after reportedly being electrocuted while creating artwork using electricity and wood.

The St. Clair Shores Police and Fire departments were called at around 3:35 p.m. Jan. 10 to the 23000 block of Allor Street for a report of a man on fire in his garage. The Fire Department arrived first and extinguished the flames. When police arrived, officers found a severely burned body in the detached garage of the residence.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

At press time, officials said the incident appeared to have been accidental.

“He was experimenting with this form of artwork,” said Detective Paul Dlugokenski Jan. 14. “Lichtenberg ... where they pass electricity through wood and it’s supposed to burn. It failed on him and he was electrocuted.”

Fire Marshal M. Bodnar said the man, who was in his 60s, was discovered by his wife in the unattached garage of the house in the 23000 block of Allor Street at around 3:30 p.m.

“The wife discovered ... smoke coming from the garage. She opened up the garage, and she saw her husband on the floor on fire,” Bodnar said.

St. Clair Shores firefighters extinguished the flames from the man’s body, but “he was deceased, more than likely from the electrocution first,” Bodnar said. At press time, officials were waiting on the findings from the Macomb County medical examiner’s report.

Creating art by running electricity through wood is something that should not be attempted by someone who is not properly trained in electrical work, said Mike Henderson, of Clinton Township, who creates artwork using the method that he has brought to the Lac Ste. Claire Fine Art Fair.

“Even though they see it on YouTube, Facebook, or someone like me doing it (and think,) ... ‘Oh my God, that looks so easy. Unfortunately, if you don’t understand how electricity works or have any kind of background into it, the safest thing is to not do it at all,” he said.

He said there are many ways that a user could be electrocuted when creating the artwork.

“I tell people, ‘Stand back, don’t try this at home,” he said. “I had a background in electrical (work) before I started doing this.”

Bodnar said that the man, who is not being named by authorities, was passing electricity using GTO cable attached to jumper cables with alligator clamps to do the wood crafting. It is unknown how much experience the man had with the craft, Bodnar added.

“It appears that all the safety requirements were not followed,” she said. “We’re advising not to use it. It’s very dangerous, and let the experts and the trained professionals do it.

“We’re very guarded about using electricity in this manner. This is a very unfortunate call.”