Update: A man’s normal day on the job ends tragically

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UPDATED 9/18/2014 10:42 A.M.

OKLAHOMA CITY - The plumber who died while on the job in Oklahoma City has been identified.

Joe Waddell, 48, died in the crawl space of a house on West Park Place Wednesday after being electrocuted.

 

OKLAHOMA CITY - It was a tragic ending to what began as a normal day on the job.

A plumber died in the crawl space of a house in the 1800 block of West Park Place around 11:30 Wednesday morning.

His coworkers and friends helplessly watching from the side, as crews tore through the floor to pull him out.

Firefighters told NewsChannel 4 they had some electrical issues on scene.

They pulled the meter to the house and then began a desperate search.

The crawl space was barely big enough for a neighborhood cat.

"I'd say it's not even a foot and a half high," Jesse Spiglmyer, who used to live in this house, said.

He was anxiously watching the scene with his neighbors and could only speculate on what happened to the victim.

"He got electrocuted," Spiglmyer said.  "He was under there working on a water leak that they had two days ago."

Oklahoma City Fire and EMSA responded to an electrocution call, but officials could not confirm the cause of death.

"We did evaluate him for that," Batt. Chief Richard Kelley said.  "At this time, they were saying they didn't see any appearance of that but that still doesn't rule that out."

Two plumbers had been working on the house, and one of them never emerged from underneath the home.

"When his partner hadn't heard from him in quite some time, he began hollering at him, but got no response," Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow said.

Fire crews could only reach the victim by cutting through the floor.

They tried to revive him after pulling him out, but he died at the scene.

"At this time, it does look to just be a very tragic accident," Wardlow said.   "We have not identified this man at this time.  Hopefully, that will come later today."

Shawn McKinley, with Freedom Electric, heard the news and stopped by.

He has a lot of experience with plumbing systems not being properly grounded, so if the victim touched a charged pipe, "He became the ground himself," McKinley said.

"Because all the water pipes are metal and then people cut pieces out of it and replace it with the (plastic) piping and now you've lost your path to earth," he said, "and then it's easy for a person to become the path to earth."

Officials were still notifying family Wednesday evening, and would not release the victim's name.

Friends of the victim did not want to comment on camera, but said he was a good man who always offered to lend a hand and always had a smile.

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