Daily Herald
Elgin electrocutions were accident
By Josh Stockinger | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 8/27/2008 11:59 PM

The deaths of two men who were electrocuted while working on a bridge in Elgin this summer were ruled accidental Wednesday by a Kane County coroner's jury.

Ionnis "John" Maroulis, 44, and Javier Valadez-Chavez, 31, both of Chicago, were suspended some 22 feet above the ground in a bucket lift June 11 when the equipment hit a live power line under the Route 20 bridge over the Fox River, officials testified.

The accident sent more than 12,000 volts of electricity through the metal equipment, causing the bucket the men were riding in to burst into flames, Elgin fire investigator Eric Hopp said. Both Maroulis and Valadez-Chavez were pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident, which prompted a midair recovery of the bodies, took place while the men, employees of the Lansing-based Eagle Painting and Maintenance Co., were prepping the bridge for sandblasting and a new coat of paint.

On Wednesday, ComEd attorney Denise Perry said the contractor had requested electrical lines in the area be shut off for the work but did not give the power company the required 14 days' notice. She also disputed accounts that the site foreman - Maroulis' brother - called ComEd again the day of the fatalities to confirm the power was, in fact, off.

A representative from Eagle did not testify at Wednesday's hearing, but Kane County Coroner Charles West said the foreman claimed he was told the lines were without power.

"It's a very tragic incident," West said, adding that it would "probably result in criminal or civil proceedings down the line."

Hopp also testified that a similar situation occurred at the same location and involved the same wires in the 1980s. Further details about that incident weren't immediately available.