Jupiter, FL Powerline Claims Seven, Mar 1985


Jupiter, Fla. (AP) - Seven people, including three small children, were electrocuted in their car Saturday when it touched another vehicle on which a downed 7,620-volt power line had fallen.
Witnesses gave conflicting versions of what happened.
One, Bernard Johnson, told Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department that the seven died as they tried to flee a fire caused by the power line, which fell in front of their mobile home before dawn, said Carolyn Nelson, a department spokeswoman.
She said the seven were electrocuted when the rear door of their car struck another automobile on which the downed power line had fallen.
"That caused the electrocution," Nelson said.
But Thomas Kennedy, 23, told The Associated Press that five of the victims were spending the night in the car and died when they tried to get out of the vehicle.
Kennedy said BERNETT FULKS, 21, her three children and her boyfriend, IRVING ROBERT, SR., 26, were in the car around 4 a.m. when the downed power line struck a car parked next to them.
"Irving tried to back away from the wire but he was trapped in by the trailer," Kennedy said.
FULKS' mother and brother were alerted to the danger and came out of the trailer to help the five escape, Kennedy said. As they touched the car, FULKS opened a door that touched the adjacent car, electrocuting all seven people, Kennedy said.
He said the couple was in the car because Robert did not get along with FULKS' parents.
Pronounced dead at the scene, Nelson said, were:
FULKS and her children, SAN TRESA RENETT BROWN, 4;
and GAIL DANIELLE FULKS, 7 months;
her mother, BERNICE FULKS, 44;
and her brother, JAMES FULKS, 23.
The bodies were taken to the Palm Beach County medical examiner's office for autopsies.
Fulks' father, James Troy Fulks, 46, slept through the incident and knew nothing about it until rescue crews came.
"The people from the ambulance came and got me out. I didn't know anybody was dead until they told me," he said. "I got one daughter and me - that's all I got left. I'm through with this. I don't want to live here no more."
Neighbor Edna Runner said she accompanied another Fulks daughter, Joanne Fulks, 19, who lives elsewhere, to identify the bodies.
"(James and Joanne) are both shaken up pretty badly, but they're going to make it through this O.K.," she said. "It was such a shock."
Jeanne Peeples, another spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said, "They were probably aware of the fire but it was dark and they probably didn't know anything about the wire."
Florida Power & Light Co. spokesman Charlie Scheer said it was not immediately known why the power line had fallen.
"We have a team of investigators trying to piece together the situation," he said.
"We've had some bad weather in the past few days ... but nothing that I know of last night."

The Post-Crescent Appleton Wisconsin 1985-03-24