Three electrocuted in rescue attempt
Three people were electrocuted after trying to rescue a dog in Groveland Thursday night.
According to Sheriff Dave Johnson, 31-year-old Jacquelyn (Jackie) Poulson was reported missing just before 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Johnson said Poulson had left her home in search of the family dog. She had taken another dog with her.
When she didn't return, a group of neighbors and family began looking for her along with Bingham County Sheriff's deputies and Search and Rescue.
Johnson said the search ended just before 11 p.m. when Poulson and two other victims were found in an irrigation ditch near the junction of Groveland and Rose roads.
The other victims were 41-year-old Michael Lance Hicks of Blackfoot and 49-year-old Preston Keith Tarpley.
Johnson said Poulson had apparently entered the canal to go after the family dog. Hicks and Tarpley had apparently entered the water in an attempt to rescue Paulson and they, too, were electrocuted.
An irrigation pump in the area had shorted out and was sending a current through the water, said sheriff's Captain Mark Cowley.
A crew from Idaho Power Company responded and shut off all power in the Groveland area.
After the power was off, rescuers were able to recover the bodies.
The sheriff said the victims' bodies have been sent to Boise for autopsies.
Neighbor and eyewitness Heidi Gerber said she and her husband, Andy, received a reverse 911 call from the sheriff's office at 10: 05 p.m.
"We got dressed and went over to the Keith Tarpley's residence where volunteers were put into groups of five or six people," Gerber said.
"We were walking around the property with a flashlight," she said. "Lance [Hicks] found a cell phone on the ditch bank and asked, 'Whose phone is this?'
"It's Jacquelyn's," Hicks' wife, Bucki, said.
"Her shoes were also sitting there," Gerber said.
"We saw her dog laying underwater in the ditch," she said.
"Lance jumped into the water and started screaming," Gerber said. "We thought he was being sucked into something.
"We were screaming for help," she said. "Keith Tarpley was the first to make the ditch.
"He saw Lance and didn't connect that something was wrong in the water," Gerber said.
Tarpley was electrocuted after he hit the water.
"Sheriff officers tried to clear the ditch banks," Gerber said. "Idaho Power was contacted and shut off all power to Groveland."
Idaho Power's Lynette Berriochoa confirmed Friday that power was cut to the entire Groveland area Thursday evening when it was determined that electrical currents were running through the canal water and rescue workers needed to enter the canal to retrieve the bodies of Poulson, Hicks and Tarpley. The area was without power from approximately 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Berriochoa said that it appears that an irrigation pump shorted out, energizing the water. She said that the pump was beyond Idaho Power's point of delivery on the electrical meter.
"Idaho Power maintains equipment up to a certain point," Berriochoa explained. "Private individuals such as farmers and ranchers are required to maintain their own equipment outside of the metered area."
It is not known at this time who the owner of the irrigation pump is or why the pump failed.