MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - A Hartselle teen, gone too soon. Carmen Johnson's family still mourns the Priceville High cheerleader that who drowned at Smith Lake while swimming with family in April.
Her family says she died after she was electrocuted. After a metal ladder was placed in the water, Carmen soon went under.
Her friend called for help, and soon after, Carmen's father Jimmy Johnson, and his son jumped in.
"As soon as I dove in, I could feel what was going on, I could feel electric current all through my body," recalled Mr. Johnson.
He called it unbearable pain. He instructed his wife Casey to cut the power just before he blacked out.
But it was too late for Carmen.
"I never heard of it, ESD, electric shock drowning," said Johnson. He and his wife have put in hours of research on the topic, realized how easily the tragedy could hit another family.
Weather-beaten wiring on the dock put electric current in the ladder, that ended up in the water.
"You may have perfect wiring on your dock but with the weather, the movement of the boat docks, within minutes, your wiring could become faulty" said mother Casey Johnson.
From their tragedy, comes concern.
The parents want to see policies change, like plastic or carbon fiber ladders. As well as required wiring inspections on docks.
They have a newfound passion for safe dock electricity.
"Is there some piece of equipment that you could put on your dock that might could detect this, and sure enough there is, Dock Lifeguard."
It's an installable system that sets off an alarm when there's electricity in the water.
The Johnsons even had the inventor make a demo video at their lake house alarm sound in the same spot where they lost their daughter.
"This is my passion for Carmen, it's my way of keeping Carmen here with me," said Mrs. Johnson.
What you need to know
- Storms and constantly moving water can create faulty wiring quickly
- Even if you dock is fine, electric current from a neighboring dock can travel to ground at yours
- If someone is being electrocuted in water, do not jump in
- Swim away from the dock, ladder, or anything that could be the source of the electricity
- Educate neighbors on where your power cutoffs are located