A 28-year-old Oxon Hill man was electrocuted Saturday when a Citizens Band radio antenna he was adjusting touched a high voltage wire in his back yard, according to police.
James G. "Jim" Ramsey was adjusting the movable prongs of a beam antenna, about 25 feet long extended, when the aluminum blade came in contact with a live uninsulated wire carrying 7,600 volts. The wire, almost 18 feet off the ground, is one of two Pepco wires strung 16 feet from the back door of his home at 9501 Old Palmer Rd.
Ramsey's wife Carol said her husband was on the roof when the accident occurred.
"I saw him fall on the ground," Ramsey's wife Carol said yesterday, pointing to a spot of withered grass where her husband was killed.
"I had an idea it had something to do with the electricity. I heard him yell 'Carol,' then the lights and the TV went off."
However, Pepco spokeswoman Nancy Moses said Ramsey was standing on the ground behind the one-story stucco house when he somehow lost control of the antenna. The antenna first hit the higher wire, then another wire strung about 8 feet high, grounding Ramsey.
"We can't figure out what he was doing there," said Moses.
Ramsey was taken to Greater Southeast Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:35 p.m.
The jolt "burned his feet completely black and his boots had holes in them," said Carol Ramsey. She said the wires were too low and too close to the house. According to Moses, however, the 17-foot, 10-inch line is two feet above national standards for the height of such lines. The same standards require only 8 feet clearance from the house, Moses said.
"We don't like to run lines behind houses ," Moses said. "But we have been required by developers to run them in some cases."
Ramsey had been a CB enthusiast for over six years, according to his wife. The father of four children, ranging from 1 to 6 years in age, he was laid off from his construction job about a year ago and liked to pass the time talking to drivers on the open road.
According to his cousin, John Ramsey of Brandywine, James Ramsey was in the middle of a CB conversation with him when he decided to adjust the directional antenna.
"He told me to just stand by for a few minutes," said Ramsey. "He never came back."