3rd anniversary of the electrocution death of SSG Ryan Maseth
3 years ago today, 24 year old SSG Ryan Maseth entered the shower in his Special Forces living quarters at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad, Iraq and he died. He was electrocuted do to an improperly installed water pump on the roof of his building.
The Army initially reported that Ryan, a decorated Green Beret foolishly took an electrical appliance into the shower and that was the reason for his death.
The Criminal Investigations Command (CID) closed Ryan’s investigation on June 11, 2008 proclaiming Ryan’s manner of death was “accidental”. His mother, Cheryl Harris refused to accept this as the cause of death for her son.
Cheryl refused to believe the initial lie the Defense Department gave her as the cause of Ryan’s death. She was told Ryan took a small appliance into the shower with him and was consequently electrocuted. Cheryl asked hard questions and demanded honest answers. Soldiers and civilians came forward with answers to her questions. Because of her dogged determination the DoD Inspector General requested the CID reopen the investigation into Ryan’s death. Ryan’s death was deemed to be negligent homicide by the Army CID’s own investigators. But no charges have been filed and Ryan’s manner of death has not been changed from “accidental” even though it was learned the water pump was replaced by unlicensed, untrained TCN/OCS’s working for KBR.
During Cheryl’s quest for answers many positive changes have been made.
- There have been several highly publicized hearings of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the issue of shoddy electrical work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Investigations were reopened not only in Ryan’s case but many other cases of suspected electrocution as well.
- The DoD made it a requirement that ALL electricians and inspectors be licensed.
- Wages have increased for all licensed KBR electricians and in some cases wages have nearly doubled.
- Task Force SAFE and Task Force POWER were implemented by the DoD to perform electrical and fire inspections of over 90,000 buildings in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- FY 2010 Defense Appropriations bill has included language to inspect and immediately correct deficiencies that present an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury so as to ensure compliance with generally accepted electrical standards.
- KBR lost an $84 Million dollar award fee many believe due to the shoddy electrical work that caused Ryan’s death.
- Military Commanders are far more sensitive to electrical hazards than before.
- To the best of our knowledge not one soldier has died due to electrocution since Ryan’s death. Tragically one civilian contractor, Adam Hermanson was electrocuted in his shower at Camp Olympia in Baghdad on September 1, 2009. (If you know of others let us know)
- I know for a fact, there are Military Commanders out there who will think twice before assuming they can lie to the mother of a Fallen Hero and get away with it!
If you have a loved one, soldier or civilian in Iraq or Afghanistan you have Cheryl to thank for their improved electrical safety. There are still issues that need resolution but there is an immeasurable difference with the electrical systems prior to 2009 and after 2009.
Cheryl Harris has file suit against KBR for the negligent homicide death of her son. KBR has tried every legal maneuver their over paid attorneys can come up with. But to no avail, it looks like this one is going to trial. My compliments to Cheryl for fighting for the safety of all soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s because of Cheryl the electrical inspection teams of Task Force SAFE and Task Force POWER even exist.
Cheryl, I can’t even imagine how painful this and everyday is without Ryan. You are an inspiration for those who feel the pain is just more than they can bear. The world needs more Cheryl Harris’!
I will post a tribute to Ryan and Cheryl every year on this day indefinitely.