Three people were killed on the north side of Madison late Wednesday afternoon when they were electrocuted by a downed power line on the 2900 block of Sherman Avenue near Warner Park. Shortly after 4 p.m. and during a torrential downpour, a lightning strike led to a live electrical line falling to the ground at a bus stop at the busy intersection with Northport Drive. A woman and a toddler at this location were killed, as was a Metro bus rider trying to help them. Two other persons, including the bus driver, were taken to UW Hospital.
More details are provided in a press release issued by the MPD on Wednesday night:
In the form of a horrific, tragic event, three people lost their lives due to an accidental electrocution. Three individuals were waiting for a bus on N. Sherman Ave. As the bus approached, an electrical utility pole was struck by lightning, causing a live wire to touch the ground. That wire ended up in a flooded portion of the curb, that was very deep in water. A female and her child were electrocuted. A small child standing to get on the bus tried to enter the water, but was spared life.
A hero on the bus witnessed what transpired and got off the bus to render aid. That hero also was electrocuted. The heroic bus driver also attempted to perform a rescue by exiting the bus, but was shocked and fell back into the bus.
Taken to the hospital were the child and bus driver and their condition is unknown at this time. Several officers were on scene immediately. Other people were on the bus and they were uninjured. The coroner's office is handling the autopsy, identification of the bodies and the notification to survivors.
There were numerous heavy hearts on scene trying to comprehend this tragedy.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz went to the north side following the accident, and stayed on the scene until the three victims' bodies were removed. "This was fatal and tragic accident, a reminder of how precious life is, and how suddenly it can be taken away," he said in a release issued shortly after 7 p.m. "My thoughts are with the victims and their families at this difficult time. Thanks to the heroic actions of several individuals, including the driver of the Madison Metro bus, more lives were not lost."
Dane County, along with much of south-central Wisconsin, remains under a Flash Flood Warning through Wednesday evening as a line of storms continues to move into the area from the southwest. When these showers moved into the Madison area this afternoon, 2.26 inches of rain fell in about an hour, contributing to th flash flooding that led to the electrocution at the north side bus stop.
"Runoff from heavy rain will continue to produce localized flooding this evening," reports the National Weather Service. "Additional heavy rain of 1 to 2 inches is expected from southern parts of Dane and Jefferson counties on south into Lafayette and Green counties."
More storms are forecast for Thursday and Friday.