Late-night fun ends in electrocution

A night of partying ended in tragedy on Sunday when two young men were electrocuted, one fatally, after climbing onto freight trains at the Buchs rail depot in St. Gallen.

A 24-year-old man, referred to only as Fabian A, was killed as 15,000 volts of electricity went through him, setting him alight and melting his trainers.

“It must have been youthful recklessness that got Fabian up there,” Fabian’s boss, Albert F, told news site Blick.

Fabian worked at a scaffolding company, and was described as helpful and hardworking.

“I had so much planned for him,” Albert said.

Choosing to ignore the warning signs, Fabian A and his 23-year-old friend, known as Roger L, climbed over the fences and onto one of the wagons.

Fabian climbed too close to the power lines and was struck by a beam of electricity that jumped out at him like lightning.

“His clothes were burning. Roger tried to get his friend clear,” a witness told Blick. “But it was too late. Roger dragged himself to the street to get help. There he collapsed.”

Roger L was flown by helicopter to Zurich University hospital where he is recovering from severe burns.

Although Fabian did not actually come into contact with the power cable, his proximity was enough to attract a current.

“It is enough if, as in this tragic case in Buchs, you come so close as to attract a so-called electric arc. A layman can never assess the situation,” a spokesman for rail operator SBB, Daniele Pallecchi, told Blick.

15,000 volts is significantly higher than anything that we receive in our homes, which is why such areas are fenced off with warning signs and why it is illegal to go climbing over rail cars, Pallecchi said.

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