WASHINGTON – Military leaders and a major military contractor failed to protect a Green Beret who was electrocuted while showering in his barracks in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department's Inspector General determined.
The early 2008 death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, triggered an investigation by the IG of Maseth's death, but also a review of 17 other electrocution deaths in Iraq. Uproar over it also lead to the electrical inspections of about 90,000 U.S.-maintained facilities in Iraq, which are continuing.
The inspector general says in its findings to be released later Monday that "multiple systems and organizations" failed and exposed Maseth to "unacceptable risk." A summary of the IG's findings were obtained by The Associated Press.
Maseth was electrocuted while showering when he came in contact with an energized metal shower and hose caused by the failure of an ungrounded water pump located on the roof of the building, the IG said. It says military contractor KBR Inc., based in Houston, installed the pump and adjacent water tanks.
It says KBR did not ground equipment during installation nor report improperly grounded equipment during routine maintenance. It also says KBR did have standard operating procedures for the technical inspection of facilities.
But it also says military commanders and key decision makers failed to ensure that renovations were properly performed and did not address the maintenance situation.
Maseth's family has a lawsuit ponding against KBR. A spokeswoman for KBR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On of the 18 electrocution deaths in Iraq, nine were blamed on touching live electrical wire or cables and didn't warrant further review by the IG, according to the summary. Eight involved possible equipment faults or malfunctioning that caused or contributed to the electrocutions, the IG found.
It says it asked military criminal investigations to reopen investigations into four of the deaths, and is still waiting for the results of the review.
Last year, Gen. David Petraeus, then the commander in Iraq, ordered an inspection of about 90,000 U.S.-maintained facilities in Iraq by a task force called Task Force SAFE. Of the 67,000 inspected so far, about 18,000 have been found to have major deficiencies. About 11,000 of the major deficiencies have been repaired.