IN A METRO SECTION ARTICLE YESTERDAY ABOUT AN ELECTROCUTION, AN ARLINGTON POLICE OFFICIAL INCORRECTLY STATED THAT "YOU CAN WORK WITH HOT WIRES IF YOU'RE GROUNDED." IN FACT, WHEN WORKING WITH HOT WIRES , IT IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE GROUND, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, UNLESS ONE IS PROPERLY INSULATED. (Published 9/ 20/87)

A Virginia Department of Transportation employe was killed by electric shock yesterday as he was trying to restore electricity to a light pole along southbound I-395 in Arlington about a mile south of the 14th Street bridge, according to Arlington police.

Darnell Allen Johnson, 25, of 677 50th Place SE in the District, was taken to Arlington Hospital about 12:30 p.m., and was pronounced dead on arrival.

Arlington police officials described the incident as an industrial accident.

According to Cpl. Lynn Hoffmann, Johnson and a coworker were looking for the cause of a power failure to the light pole when the accident occurred. Hoffmann said Johnson had climbed into a small concrete power box off the side of the road in search of the problem when he suddenly collapsed.

"He {Johnson's coworker} saw him slumped over in the hole," said Hoffmann, adding that Johnson's colleague immediately radioed for help. "He obviously hit a hot wire."

Hoffmann said police officials responding to the call for help believed that Johnson may have accidentally touched a guardrail just above the power box.

"That's the only thing we can think of, that he touched something that wasn't grounded," Hoffmann said. "You can work with hot wires if you're grounded but once you touch something that's not grounded, that's it."

Marianne Pastor, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said an investigation of the incident is under way. Pastor said that transportation officials have determined only that Johnson, who was working as a highway electrician's helper, was killed accidentally. She said she could not recall a similar accident in the department's recent history.

Pastor said Johnson had been employed with the department for just over a year.

The accident is also under investigation by Virginia Occupational Safety and Health officials.