WASHINGTON -- A State Department contractor apparently has been electrocuted while showering in Baghdad even as U.S. authorities in Iraq try to remedy wiring problems that have led to the deaths of American troops there.
The contractor, Adam Hermanson, 25, died Sept. 1, his wife, Janine, said Tuesday. She added that a military medical examiner told her that preliminary findings indicate her husband died from low voltage electrocution.
Electrical wiring has been an ongoing problem in Iraq. At least three troops have been electrocuted in the shower since the start of the Iraq War, while others have been electrocuted under other circumstances such as while operating a power washer. Inspections and repairs are under way at 90,000 U.S.-maintained structures there.
Hermanson grew up in San Diego and Las Vegas. He joined the military at age 17, and did three tours in Iraq with the Air Force before leaving at the rank of staff sergeant. He returned to Iraq as an employee of the Herndon, Va.-based private contractor Triple Canopy.
Jayanti Menches, a spokeswoman for Triple Canopy, said in an e-mail that the company was saddened by his death but would not be commenting further until an investigation was complete.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood also offered condolences to the family, but would not elaborate further on the cause of death, pending an investigation.
Janine Hermanson said her husband took the contracting job so they would have money to buy a house in Muncy, Pa., where they were planning to live. She said she'd already moved there and was living with her parents.
The two would have celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary on Sunday.
"He was supposed to come back and we had a lot of plans," said his wife, who also served in Iraq with the Air Force.
Besides three Iraq tours, Adam Hermanson served in Uzbekistan with the Air Force. His mother, Patricia Hermanson, 53, of Las Vegas, said everyone in her family was struggling to understand how he could survive four war tours, then die suddenly in a seemingly safe place.
"We all know that Adam was as strong as a tank," his mother said. "He was in good health."
In July, the Defense Department's inspector general said that of the 18 electrocution deaths of U.S. soldiers and contractors in Iraq, eight involved possible equipment faults or malfunctioning that caused or contributed to the electrocutions. The accidental touching of live wires was blamed in about half the deaths.