Six-Year-Old Girl Killed on Electric Fence of Neighbor in Texas

electricityPolice in Elysian Fields, Texas are dealing with a relatively rare form of alleged tort and crime. Marcos Gonzalez is accused of causing the death of six-year-old Ceira Clark by electrifying his fence with 20 amps. Clark lives next door and fell on the fence on the day after Christmas.

Her mother, Brenda Slack, says that she tried to revive her but that the shock was too great on the child.

Police captain Marty Latham did not appear to object to an electric fence in a residential area, but did object to the voltage: “It wasn’t a typical electrical fence that would be powered down. It was running straight through a 110 outlet and there was a lot of amps running through it. People with common sense would put it maybe on a 5… but 20 amps, that’s enough to power half of a house. She didn’t have time to scream for help, close her eyes, nothing.”

It does not appear to be a crime in Texas to have electric fences in residential areas. It should be. In the meantime, the family should sue Gonzalez. The common law has long prohibited the use of devices that can cause serious bodily injury or death in the protection of property. These spring gun or man-trap cases are based on both the immorality of the act as well as the inherent danger to police, fire-fighters and citizens from these devices.

Such cases often involve people who put the voltage too high or fail to add a regulator that pulsates the voltage as in the death of an elderly woman in New York who died trying to free her pet, here.
In the most bizarre instance, a man was injured when on this video he was captured urinating on a fence that he did not realize was electric.

The police are exploring a criminal negligence charge for Gonzalez.

For the full story, click here.

42 thoughts on “Six-Year-Old Girl Killed on Electric Fence of Neighbor in Texas”

  1. I’ve been trying to find some definitive law re electric fences in California, that cause injuries. Does anyone out there know where it can be find. I’ve been through the California Codes and found nothing. Thanks.

  2. Let me clarify a few things. I live in a residential neighborhood in Texas and I have an electric fence due to being broken into twice in one month. I have an electric fence energizer intended for livestock and rated for 5 acres of property even though my lot is only 3/4 of an acre. My fence energizer plugs into a 110 volt outlet and utilizes 10watts of electricity at this voltage, about 1/11 amps. The energizer converts this to 10,000 volts, at an extremly low amperage, and pulses ONCE every second, unlike the 50 to 60 pulses a second of regular 110 volt electricity. Also, the energizer’s pulses on last a duration of a few millionths of a second, giving you plenty of time to get the heck away from the fence before it zaps you again. Typical ac current supplied to your house is constant, which prevents you from controling your muscles and getting away from the electricity. And to explain the reason for 10,000 volts, the higher voltage allows electricity to travel down possible miles of fence, through an animals fur or humans skin, to jump over rubber soled shoes, and travel back trough the soil that has low electrical conductivity to the energizer. So I think John McKirdy was right when he posted his comment above about it being improper.

  3. i believe it goes both ways and by the way don’t talk about Texas unless you live here. On the subject at hand though the person who installed the fence should be held liable if he didn’t follow the dircetions on the kit he bought or especially if he just jerry rigged it to work with no one checking his work that was lickenced. On the other hand there should have been a regular fence in front of the fence or at least the childs parents should have talked about putting one up with the neighbors and asking him to turn off the fence until they put one up. That is if they even did talk to there neighbor or have plans to put it up. I don’t know the whole story. Sad to say but both there faults for not doing there jobs as responsible adults. That is why we call it a property line. If the fence was marked like it should have been then it should be the parents fault for not watching there child. I love kids but like the other person said some people forget to watch the most important thing on the planet to them and this is what happens when they do so. I personally am about to put a fence up and notify my neighbors because their children keep harrasing my dog and try to get him to jump to the top of the fence now that he can i have to put up one because i am in fear that my dog will jump over the fence and get hit by a car. My dog is like a son to me, and this is all because of poor parenting on my neighbors behalf. My sympathy goes out to the family and hope that if they did talk to the neighbor about the fence and have a plan for a regular fence that they get through this horibble time and eventually find peace. However if they failed to talk or have a plan to put a regular fence up then look in the mirror it is just as much your fault as it is your neighbors. I don’t know the whole story so please do not think i am cold hearted i have to put two views only because of the lack of information in the article.

  4. I am the father of Sierra Clark and the moter wasn’t watching the kids. The homeowner told them there was an electric fence, not that it was that powerful but that there was an electric fence there. My daughter had to pay the price for her mothers irresponsibility. I loved my daughter very much and stil have not gotten over this yet and have been unable to catch either one of the two to get my hands on them.. They will both have to pay for this one day in the eyes of the lord. RIP baby I love you and Miss you so very much.

  5. I’m getting ready to install an electric fence in my own yard, in a residential neighborhood. In reply to the person asking why one would be needed in a residential neighborhood, let me explain my situation. I have an aviary. Unfortunately, cats of neighbors who let their cats run wild love to harrass my birds. So I’m putting up an electric fence for them. Current is 1/16 amp.

    To Mr. Turley: it is not the voltage that is the problem. It’s the current. Just to illustrate, when you drag your feet across the carpet and then zap someone with a small spark, the voltage involved is thousands of volts. But it’s a small current.

  6. At 110V, 20A sounds like the fence was hooked straight onto mains, rather than using an electric fence device. That means his fence was effectively an exposed (uninsulated) mains conductor, which is of course illegal anywhere.

  7. Kid shouldn’t have been out there by the damn fence. People now a days never watch their kids. He probably got sick of yelling at them to get out of his yard everyday (like I have to) and put up a fence. Let this be a warning to parents who are too busy watching t.v. to watch their kids.

  8. I live in a called Weston in West Virginia and my neighbor just put an electric fence right on the property line in a residential neighberhood where I live, because my dogs keep going in there yard. I baby sit kids who cannot read a sign saying do not touch electrical fence. I think they should be made to take it down.

  9. Rafflaw, I think you miscontrue. Texas does have safety codes
    – commercial, residential, and rural. I know it’s hard to believe, but the entire State is not totally backward!

    I suspect the homeowner never applied for a permit, as required by local ordinance.

    I suspect the homeowner installed the fence by himself, or had it done on the side and/or, likewise, never notified his insurance company upon its completion, much less the Town…

  10. This is one more example why Texas is one place that I will never set foot in, if I can help it. If there are no codes restricting the amount of amperage or if the city did not inspect properly, the city officials should be held liable along with the property owner. This is an atrocious example of an idiot allowed to threaten the lives of children and pets throughout the neighborhood. I hate Texas.

  11. Coverage could be troublesome.

    I doubt there was a permit, proper installation, or inspection. Properly grounded UL controllers emit a maximum charge
    not exceeding 1/10 of a second.

    mespo, I believe TX has fully completed its adoption of the International Residential Code which includes the NEC.

  12. I think you’re right. I know there was something somewhere that said how much amperage farmers where we lived could use for electrifying fences. It might even have been something the BLM came up with.

  13. waynebro:

    I thought there was such a provision under BOCA, but I can’t seem to find it. It may be under the National Electrical Code.

  14. I believe there are laws dictating maximum amperage for electric fences. It probably varies from area to area and maybe its not dictated in all regions but I seem to recall my dad telling me when I was young that 5 AMPS was the max allotted amperage in a residential community. 5 AMPS is enough to turn a cow around.

  15. I believe that mespo hit the nail on the head. This should be a strict liability case. The fact that the law does not prohibit electric fences in residential neighborhoods does not eliminate the common law rule duty to refrain from creating a condition which places innocent persons at risk of suffering serious injury or death. Firing up an electric fence to 20 amps is per se negligence, which is just another way of saying that anyone with half a brain would not do it. The owner’s insurance company will likely offer to pay the policy limits without a lawsuit ever being filed, but a child is needlessly dead.

  16. Sally:

    You’re right to worry about the recovery. Typical homeowner coverage is only $100,000.00, and this won’t begin to compensate the victim’s family. I suggest a legislative remedy limiting such fences and the amount of power they can hold with a criminal sanction. If that fails, I suspect the parents may move to enjoin the homeowner under a theory of public nuisance or even strict liability since in does involve the harnessing of electricity which is an abnormally dangerous activity at this power level and a classic strict liability setting.

  17. Unbelievable that somebody could be that negligent. I’ve been around electrified fences, often used to keep everything from larger cattle to smaller goats inside the property boundaries (as well, I suppose, as to keep predators away from livestock) and these low powered fences can give you enough of a jolt that you’re not too inclined to grab the wire a second time, but they should never be powered with a lethal amount of juice. That somebody would set up an electrified fence with this much power running through it, and that there may be other such fences on other properties, is very disturbing.

    As Sally mentioned, if there isn’t one already, there ought to be a law.

  18. Why does a person need an electric fence in a neighborhood? And what was the man’s purpose for having it set at 20 amps?

    If the family sues the man, does his homeowners insurance cover this? No amount of money is going to make them as happy as their child did. Maybe they should also push for tougher laws on electric fences. What a tragic loss for that family.

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