A man is dead after urinating on the third rail of a Brooklyn subway track Monday morning, the New York Daily News reports.
Police say the victim, Matthew Zeno, 30, and his 26-year-old friend (whose name was not released) were looking for a place to relieve themselves after leaving a bar. At around 3:10 a.m., they ended up on the tracks of a G train stop in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. As he paused to urinate, Zeno accidentally touched the third rail and was zapped with 625 volts of electricity, according to the New York Police Department and the New York City Fire Department, local NYC news website DNAinfo reports. When Zeno’s friend tried to help him, he received a much milder electric shock. Both men were sent to Woodhull Hospital, where Zeno died of a heart attack and his friend remained in critical, yet stable condition as of Monday morning.
In April 2012, an Indiana man was also killed by electrocution after trying to urinate on the Purple Line tracks at an ‘L’ station in Evanston, Illinois. He was climbing down into the tracks and fell onto the third rail, according to CBS Chicago. And in March 2010, a man was electrocuted after he inadvertently urinated on a downed power line in a roadside ditch in Montesano, Washington. “The urine stream likely served as a conductor, allowing the electricity to reach his body,” the Associated Press reported.
Indeed, a 2011 segment of The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters tested the consequences of peeing on the third rail by crafting a stunt dummy that could release urine and had the same electrical properties as a human body. When the prop was standing on dry ground, wearing rubber shoes and not touching the third rail, it suffered no harm because, as slow-motion video seemed to demonstrate, the urine broke up into a series of little drops so the stream could not sustain an electrical current. But when the dummy held the third rail with its two hands and peed on it from three inches away, the figure violently jolted backwards, showing that people could be lethally electrocuted if they touched the third rail in the act.