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How Many More Have to Die? Part Two (and Three)

It's happened again. Two more innocent musicians have been electrocuted this year after having committed the crime of touching a guitar and a microphone or another guitar at the same time. It has now happened twice this year and once last year.

On October 11, 2015, Adrian Rodriguez, the bass player in a band called Raras Bestias (Rare Beasts), was electrocuted at the Café de la Flor in Rosario, Argentina. Witnesses said that the lead singer received a shock and couldn't let go of the microphone. He began to "twist," and Rodriguez tried to help, but he was electrocuted with the audience looking on. Apparently the singer survived.

Adrian Rodriguez was electrocued on October 11, 2015

As if that wasn't bad enough, another guitarist was electrocuted earlier this year in Argentina. On January 15, 2015, León Villa Rebufo was electrocuted while jamming with other musicians at the Blessed Bar in Ituzaingó, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Witnesses said that Rebufo and a bass player named Marcelo "El Gitano" Requejo hugged and received a shock from which they could not break loose. They fell to the floor. The bass player survived but Leon was unresponsive. An ambulance was called but failed to revive Rebufo. Requejo, who is an electrician by trade, reportedly said that the circuit had no breaker. Unconfirmed reports say that the club had trouble with the circuit breaker nuissance tripping, so they had it removed before the lethal accident.

León Villa Rebufo was electrocuted January 15, 2015

These incidents came to my attention after I read that two sound technicians were indicted for manslaughter in the case of the accidental electrocution of Agustin Briolini in November 2014. Briolini fronted the band The Krebs, and he died during a sound check at a theatre in Argentina when he touched a microphone while holding his guitar.

Agustin Briolini was electrocuted November 23, 2014

What do two of these incidents have in common? Faulty grounding. And all three deaths could have been prevented with the use of a $22 portable GFCI like this. All stage circuits, in my humble opinion, should be on GFCI protection or RCD protection. It's an easy and affordable thing to do and there is no reason any more people have to die doing what they love.

Just two days ago I was leading a class on entertainment electrics, power distribution, and control systems. During a discussion of grounding, we talked about the proper way to resolve ground loops and the improper way to resolve them. The improper way is to use a ground lift adapter to interrupt the ground loop. The proper way is to interrupt the signal ground, not the safety ground, using an adapter like an IL-19 audio isolation transformer. One of the attendees insisted that the only way he could quickly resolve ground loop problems is to use a ground lift adapter. I repeated myself. "Never, under any circumstances, should you interrupt the safety ground. That's how people die." I can only hope that through education and training that the entertainment industry will heed the warning for the sake of those who have died and for those whose lives depend on the knowledge of people like you.

For more information, check out the Protocol article "Protecting the Stage" in the Winter 2015 issue. To read the article, click here.

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