A scientist died in a freak accident when he touched a power cable while out running.
James Kew, 42, was leading members of a running club through a cornfield when he came into contact with the end of the 11 000-volt cable, which had come loose from a telegraph pole.
It was hanging around 4ft(about 1,22m) from the ground and may have been concealed by a bush or tree.
The discharge of electricity caused the surrounding ground to catch fire. Two other runners suffered shocks as they tried to help their friend.
Paramedics were at the field in Newport, near Saffron Walden, Essex, within minutes but were unable to reach Dr Kew for around two hours until the power was isolated, although he is thought to have died before they arrived.
Dr Kew, who is understood to have had a son with his wife Sarah, lived in the picturesque village of Ashdon.
He was a director of biology at the Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery, a research department at Britain’s biggest drugs company, GlaxoSmithKline. He previously held a senior position at the company’s Central Nervous System Drug Discovery Unit, and had a BSc in biological sciences from Exeter University and a PhD in developmental sciences from Cambridge University.
Mrs Kew was unavailable to comment yesterday.
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “James was a really nice guy and very, very bright. We’re all crushed at what has happened.”
Dr Kew’s mother, Jill, was at the detached house she shares with husband Jeremy in White Roding, near Dunmow, Essex, but was too upset to talk.
Dr Kew was a keen runner who took part in the London Marathon for the first time this year, finishing in just over three hours.
He was out training with other members of the Saffron Striders club when the accident happened at around 8.45pm on Tuesday.
Chairman Nigel Coates said: “James was quiet and unassuming and a very popular member of the Striders who will be deeply missed.
“Everyone at the club is absolutely devastated by James’s death and our thoughts go out to his family at this incredibly difficult time.” Dr Kew also belonged to Bishop’s Stortford Hockey Club and an online tribute described him as “a lovely guy and good hockey player”.
The Health and Safety Executive has been informed of the incident and a joint investigation has been launched with Essex Fire Service.
The damaged cable had been attached to a 25ft high wooden telegraph pole. It was not clear last night how it came free.
A group of ten, including engineers from UK Power Networks, which maintains cables, and police, remained at the spot yesterday.
A UK Power Networks spokesman said: “Engineers are helping with an investigation.’
East of England Ambulance Service said an emergency call was received just after 8.45pm.
A spokesman said: “Sadly the man had already died by the time the medics arrived seven minutes later.
“Crews treated two further patients on scene for minor electric shocks.”
Five years ago Professor Roland Levinsky, 63, vice-chancellor of the University of Plymouth, was electrocuted by a loose cable from a pylon that had been brought down by stormy weather in Wembury, Devon. - Daily Mail