Contractor Fatality At Tesla Supercharger Station Just Ahead Of Grand Opening – Video (Update)

AUG 18 2015 BY JAY COLE 67

A private contractor working for Tesla on a new Supercharging station in Norfolk, Virgina that was scheduled to have its grand opening tomorrow has unfortunately died this morning of a possible electrocution.

ABC 13News Now says that a call came in at 10:30 AM this morning of a fatality at the scene of the 6 stall Tesla station.  Investigation into the accident is still under underway, the man was pronounced dead at the scene, with the initial 911 call indicating he was electrocuted.

Update:  A Tesla spokesperson has confirmed the incident to (also original video report from WAVY 10 below):

“During the installation process at our new Supercharger station in Norfolk, there was an accident involving an electrical contractor.”

Update 2:  The worker has been identified as  Steven Weaver (32) of Angier, N.C.

Tesla spokesperson Will Nicholas further commented on the status of the station on Wednesday:

“Due to an accident during the last stages of our Supercharger installation, we will be postponing our grand opening.”


Norfolk Supercharging Facility Was Scheduled To Have Grand Opening Tomorrow

Norfolk Supercharging Facility Was Scheduled To Have Grand Opening Tomorrow (via ABC 13News Now)


A Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman told the ABC affiliate that “the victim was a private contractor working on equipment.”

Earlier in the day around 7AM, witnessed had seen the man entering and exiting the Tesla station’s power/housing box.

Currently, Norfolk police have closed sections of the Janaf parking lot which houses the Supercharging stations located in the 5900 block of E. Virginia Beach Boulevard.



WAVY 10 also filed this video (below) report today:

ABC 13News NowWAVY, Hat tip to Josh B!

Categories: Charging, Tesla


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67 Comments on "Contractor Fatality At Tesla Supercharger Station Just Ahead Of Grand Opening – Video (Update)"

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***mod edit (Aug 19)***

Out of respect, we are taking the rare step of pulling the first nestled thread of 8 comments that contained some light, but still a bit too insensitive puns (as well as some more serious subsequent ones) considering the situation/loss of life during this accident.

***mod edit***

Please let it be a copper thief…..

I assure you he was not a thief. This was a close friend of mine that was working on the site. Im sure there will be an investigation.

Kevin —

I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine all the pain this accident is causing for this man’s loved ones, family, and friends such as yourself.

It is a bit surreal on this forum to talk about people’s actual deaths, much less actually interact directly with anybody directly involved. Please forgive comments that come from inside our normal green car bubble mindset that aren’t intended for an audience of grieving friends and family.

I know you and others must be looking for answers to many questions that must be running through your minds non-stop at this point. I wish we had answers here to offer, but the best we can offer are our deepest sympathies.


thanks, this isnt where people would normaly search for “news”, I actually stumbled here tryin to find out anything new.

As I wrote earlier, working with electricity is no less dangerous than working with gasoline, no matter what the anti-ICE and EV fanatics say. A small crack in the charging cord of 240V chargers can easily turn fatal. These chargers will need regular checks and maintenance. Superchargers will need more careful inspection than the regular chargers.

We EV users should all be careful, and acknowledge the risks involved in what we do. My heart felt sympathy for the victim and his family, for a life lost too early.

And smoking near a gas pump is a bad idea also.

Well, there is more danger to the technician working on the equipment inaccessible to the public, as this very unfortunate case tends to indicate. The point of my former post was that extreme caution is always needed when working on 277 volt equipment, as it always seems to be the proximate cause of death in these cases. Not that it was the case here, but there also is an explosion risk (not applicable here) if the technician carelessly causes an arc at the wrong place. A crack in a 240 volt cord in a person’s house on the cord coming from a WallBox EVSE is still a safer situation than other ‘cracked cords’ in the garage, say, from an electric snow blower or electric air compressor, seeing as the EVSE has either ‘Ground Fault Protection for Personel”, or ‘Ground Fault Protection for Equipment’, depending on the brand of the EVSE. In the states the maximum shock would only be 120 volts, which is usually survivable, and then the unit would usually shut down anyway. The worn snowblower or air compressor would be therefore much more dangerous since the Shock Voltage would be the same, and, there would be no facility… Read more »

Hopefully Tesla does not have a policy of going with the lowest priced subcontractors, to build out their SC Network… 😛

To err is human… *Bramp*

I’m thinking someone at Fox News just had an accident in their pants.

Any contractor / human / person working with deadly voltage can turn up dead.

I suspect somebody (maybe not even this guy) may have mislabeled something, but the real issue is that the guy clearly didn’t test to make sure that there was no power.

Basic safety was likely overlooked, and unfortunately, these things don’t just “shock”.

Sad to hear, but he probably was not following LOTO (Lock Out Tag Out).

In my biz there are strict procedures technicians use for anything over 50V. Anything over 240V has guidelines on a case-by-case basis.

I learned the hard way that ground is not always ground. I can remember vividly the loud humming sound in my head as the juice passed from my left hand to my right hand. I remember wondering if I was about to die and how do I let go of this. After what seemed like an eternity, I had the idea to just let myself fall away.

This is a close friend of mine. He wasn’t an electrician. He did help set these stations up though. This is a horrible tragedy.

My sympathies. I dont know the man, but most deaths at age 32 is tragic. Working in high voltage areas present real clear danger in the building process. Again, sorry for your loss. And regards to his family.

Sad. I hope the guy’s family is ok.

Thank you for the first sensitive comment on this issue.

Sensitive but not too realistic. His family is pretty far from OK.

It might be poor wording, but it’s the thought that counts.

My prayers go out to the family.

Sven: I agree with you. This is a tragedy, regardless of how or why he was killed. It’s a human life with family, friends, etc. Like many here, I can be flippant and sometimes irreverent, but please everyone remember that this is a human life.

Maybe I could have been more selective, but I hoped the guy doesn’t have 3 kids under 5y/o, and no life insurance, for example?

Just. Stop. Please.

His family is far from Okay…they are devastated. His girlfriend/fiancé is beyond broken. My heart aches for her and the rest of his family.

If he was an electrician he should have had updated safety training and his employer should have purchased high voltage working gloves. I am a retired electrician and employees and employers take shortcuts and work on live equipment. However this charging equipment is not your usual 15 or 20 amp branch circuit. I am sure OSHA will be involved with this fatality

First off, a voice of reason on this tragedy: The internet brings out the worst in people sometimes – in fact, many times. If you’ve ever read comments on a YouTube video of say, an Olympian’s bobsled death video or something of that nature. Somehow, someway – people sitting in their “life cocoon” desk in some room somewhere, have become so callous, emotionally disconnected and perverse as to make fun of another human being’s passing. Comments like, ” what a dumb &^%$, he deserved it!”; pop up when the public should be concerned, educated, compassionate and empathetic. Perhaps our lower nature’s need addressing, or that person’s life is so terrible, they find it appropriate to display such in inappropriate comments. This is news of a man’s death. We all are connected to other people, related or not – who will grieve at our passing. How insensitive and sad that posters like JelloSlug or crass comments re: Fox News are just sad in this case. Someone said, “I hope his family is OK”, and while we know they are not “OK ( Oh-Kedokie )”, I do not think that poster thought much about how he expressed his thought. I think they… Read more »

May God rest his soul.

James, I know we are at opposite ends on Tesla topics, but for this comment you just earned a whole lot of points from everyone.

I’ve had several 220V shocks while working with household wires and fuses as a teenager. I’ve seen people burnt to crisp on the 10000V overhead electric wires on train tracks. So, electricity is very dangerous and can come out of blue at unexpected places (like a fallen transmission line). I’m not trying to spread fear; just telling the dangers that lurks around the corner.

Thank you James for being an actual human being and not a poo-flinging troll who couldn’t care less about their fellow humans.

Thank you for your eloquent post, James.

I’m shocked and saddened to see so many people here posting jokes and callous remarks about a man’s death.

Sorry if mine came off as a joke, but I am seriously worried that the anti-EV news media will get a hold of this and run with it. It is just more ammunition for them to to try to show how EV’s are bad/dangerous.

Oh, man…

Look, I feel for the family, as I am sure anybody who’s experienced the death of a loved one does. While I’m at it, I also still feel for the Tesla workers in the aluminum casting accident.

But a bit of dark humor doesn’t hurt. It’s not like the family reads this page and no, I don’t think people should insult a dead guy. But still, a bit comic relief is better than endless solemnity and political correctness, which is why Shakespeare peppered even his most tragic, gut-wrenching plays with humor. Life can be absurd, and recognizing that fact is not a bad thing.

As to Tesla, it’s hard to see how they would be found at fault in terms of the equipment, though I suppose it is possible that they drive too hard a bargain. This is certainly common with field subcontractors. A recent story about cell phone tower contractors related how the major companies simply paid too little for contractors to have time to follow correct safety procedures. And yet, the contractor model is such that, unlike an employee, the companies can (and do) argue that they don’t force anybody to bid on their contracts.

I’m not one for political correctness but this is basic respect for the deceased and his family. James, thanks for such a well written post. This guy died building the electric vehicle infrastructure we all follow like stupid teens follow the kardashians. I hope his family doesn’t read this article but I wouldn’t call it a stretch to think they’d google their dad, son, brother, uncle, husband and find all this. This man and his family are in my prayers and I’m confident in the prayers of a lot of folks who are EV-angelists reading this article.

I don’t think there will be many news stories on this man’s death, and very few if any comments in those stories. His death will mostly go unnoticed and unreported. But unfortunately, the way Google’s search algorithm works, this InsideEVs story will probably be at the top of the search results if his children/wife/family/loved-ones ever Google his death.

“This guy died building the electric vehicle infrastructure . . .”

Yes, but even the snarky comments here were somewhat tempered. I shudder to think of the pandemonium and glee some commenters would exhibit here if someone died in an accident at a hydrogen fuel station or in a Toyota Mirai.

Yeah, pious rants about how ‘ok’ is not sensitive enough to express concern about his family sicken me.

Alonso Perez said:

“It’s not like the family reads this page…”

You can’t possibly know that’s true. The friends and loved ones of the deceased have just as much chance of reading InsideEVs as anyone else.

Lack of respect for the departed has been shown here not merely by the mean-spirited and callous jokes, but also by those making the assumption that the electrician died due to carelessness on his part. It could have been faulty equipment. That doesn’t mean I’m suggesting Tesla was skimping on safety; there are other entities involved here, such as the local electric utility, and possibly some independent contractor work.

Also, Alonso, when a character dies in a Shakespeare play, it’s not a real person who has died. That’s hardly a good analogy.

I daresay William Shakespeare knew the difference.

we are all in NC so yes, we do read this page at the moment. Some of these comments are sickening. I grew up with this guy. We are all heartbroken. Thanks for at least recognizing this, and speaking up.

well said James, thoughts are with his family.

+1, it’s a sad story. Let’s hope they improve safety even more to prevent this in the future. My thoughts are with his family.

Since the vast majority of Tesla Superchargers work on 277 volts to ground, that is enough of a jolt to pass out, or in extreme cases, stop your heart.

Whenever I hear of an Electrician dead on a low-voltage circuit, I know it has got to be a 480 volt one.

This stuff is unforgiving and dangerous.

The other danger at most sc installations are Fault Currents, and Fault Powers.

The 8 stall supercharger by me has fault current available of around 16,000 amperes.

Fault powers are in the 7 megawatt range, or around 10,000 horsepower..

480 volt faults, minor ones, tend to blow boxes off the walls. Major Equipment bay problems can cause explosions where workers are buried into adjoining concrete.

The terrifying power available must be constantly respected.

Their panels should follow NEC & NFPA codes. So their SCCR should have been accounted for. Current limiting devices should have been in place to prevent any arc-flash.

Unfortunately, your response was almost as clueless as the other Gasbag here.

Current limiting devices are not required on an 800 amp service, unless special requirements by the utility, which the one by me, in Clarence Ny does not have. Since the circuit breaker is rated at 27,000 AIC, it is deemed safe by NYSEG.

The speed of the trip is significant, and is dependent on the I(squared)T setting, and the instantaneous trip setting. There, in most cases, are no taping or lacing/hold down requirements on these services, so Line-Side terminals would be accessible after energizing. Since this was a brand new installation, it may have not even have been ‘set’ yet as that would have been considered a minor adjustment.

Current limiting fuses would definitely limit let-through energy, as would the most expensive circuit breakers, such as those currently marketed by Siemens, amoungst others. But most utilities have no such requirement here, as this is a ‘radial’, not a “network” service.

First, we don’t know what part of the circuit he was working on. Second, they still need to follow the NEC, and articles 408 & 409 cover switchboards & panelboards. Third, thanks for calling me a “gasbag”. That’s a new one I can add to my list.

All the photos IVE seen show Square-D I-Line switchgear, which is the same as used at the Clarence, NY sc. It meets NEC requirements for Arc-Flash.

There is nothing wrong with this equipment, nor is there any indication it is installed incorrectly.

There is no difference between the NEC and NFPA, since the NEC is NFPA #70.

You’re welcome.

I’m glad it follows the code. I never said it was installed incorrectly. Yes, the NEC is just one code developed by the NFPA, specifically NFPA70.

I don’t know what your point is?

“…follows NEC and NFPA codes…” – thats just pedantic Name-Dropping.

That’s why I compared you with our other verbose friend.

Was hoping to charge there Thursday or Friday after a 550+ mile trip. My condolences to the family, very tragic.

This is very sad to hear. Maybe Tesla owners or just electric vehicle enthusiasts can set up some sort of fund where people can donate vis paypal to help the electricians family out with funeral expenses or something. Just a way to put a slight positive spin on this if thats even possible. Im sure the media will spin this into something like this: Electric Car’s hidden danger! Tonight at 6. charging station current is so high it can kill people!!! I’m sure plenty if people have died at refineries making the gasoline most cars use. But all we will hear is Tesla makes Supercharger Stations that kill people. And the Model S catches fire when you hit something. I still have friends that ask me of my Leaf will catch fire like a Tesla does when i get in an accident. I got in an accident with my Leaf and suprise nothing happened at all except i got a new Leaf. These people don’t realize only 3 or 4 Tesla out of thousands caught on fire. I just hope this is the first and last fatality at a Supercharger Station. Because we don’t need any more negative publicity. Hopefully… Read more »

***mod edit (staff)***

Even though it was likely not intentional to be harsh, IEV will be taking a “no tolerance” stance on moderating this thread

***mod edit***

You had to go there. 🙁

After everything that has been written already on this thread you post this. You are the worst sort of troll and exactly the sort of moron that James referred to in his post. MW

I hope this poor fellow hasn’t died because the thing was supposed to open tomorrow.

Thats the human spirit! How does this effect me??? how selfish

one of my best friends is dead and this is what we get to read, awesome

There are two possible readings to that comment and I have no idea how you automatically assumed the bad one. As I read it:

I hope this poor fellow hasn’t died because the thing [he was pressured to rush] was supposed to open tomorrow.

As you read it:

I hope this poor fellow hasn’t died because the thing [that I wanted to use] was supposed to open tomorrow.

Alonso — Knowing how “bla” has posted in the past, I’m pretty sure he meant the first, and not the second.

But given some of the now removed posts, I can see how it could be read the second way given the context of those posts that have now been removed.

Now that I have revisted the site i can see that. But when you google to try to find out anything cause you are stuck 3 hours away sometimes we end up on a message board on accident. The “copper thief comment” and the referrals to “shocking” were tough to swallow. I immediately went on the defensive. Its been a pretty crazy 24 hours and I probably shouldn’t have even responded. I do see the admins on this thread are doing a great job removing the heartless posts. And we do appreciate it! Thanks

Don’t worry about it Kevin, the emotional roller-coaster you must be going through is completely natural. I can’t say I would have reacted any different in your shoes. I know I would have gone straight to the internet trying to find anything and everything I could find, just like you.

Thanks for your posts, they are very much appreciated. They have humanized this story and put it into the correct perspective for everyone.

Rest in peace

Unfortunately, freak worksite deaths can happen even when all the rules are being followed, and all the proper safeties are in place. My heart goes out to the victims of this accident, both living and passed away.

While it is informative to hear what COULD have gone wrong (and this post isn’t meant to silence anybody), the responsible thing to do is to wait for the official report. This will for certain be investigated, and the proper professional investigators will have a chance to investigate the facts and rule on the cause.

My point being that until we hear something official, assigning blame at this point says more about the person assigning the blame than it says about the cause of the accident itself.

(Note to mods: Thanks for your work here. You are handling this correctly in my opinion.)

My deepest sympathies for this man’s loved ones.
He was working on something related to the larger picture of EV charging proliferation, something that I and many on this site are deeply committed to.
There will be much time to analyze the ‘why’s of this tragic loss of a life and how to learn. For now it is a time to respect his life and the deep loss suffered by his family and friends. My deepest condolences.

As a Tesla owner who has used the Tesla network of Superchargers all over the country for 2 years I still sympathize with the family whose loss has become a format for some ignorance of those who do not care about the feelings of others. It is a shame, and the issues of safety should always be observed in order to avoid such tragic incidents. My experiences with Tesla has been superior to any other business I have ever encountered. Tesla investing in this local property is a draw and will prove to be a positive in light of the tragedy we have today.

Hello all, Before you bash me on what I am about to say, please know what your talking about. I have been deeply involved in the EVSE program for 6 years now, I have trained Fire, Police, EMS on EVSE Safety. I am a certified EVSE Contractor etc. and I have several other safety certifications in EV, EVSE, PHEV, etc. In this comment I am specifically talking about charging stations. The industry has done a great job in developing a sound device and the precautionary safety devices installed inside are to protect the unit itself from damage caused by a ground or an arc flash or power surge. I support this industry and I promote a safe EVSE program. I am seriously concerned on comments I have read about people saying “Nobody can get injured” or its “Impossible for a death” to occur from a charging station or I hear people compare them to light poles or other appliances……Please do not compare these to light poles, there are many recorded deaths associated with street lights. The fact of the matter is, charging stations can be volatile if not properly maintained or periodically inspected. Many states have yet to implement any… Read more »
Well, please don’t criticize the ev-buying public for unsafe equipment. IF Underwriter’s Laboratories was doing the job it did decades ago, there wouldn’t have been the problem with that Horrid Blink Stuff, and my overheating “UL Recognized” (whtever that means) Schneider (square-d) EVLINK. If I’m smart enough to make it run cool how come the greatbrains over at Schneider can’t figure it out? A plain old hot tub breaker and twist lock connector would be adequate safety for me, tripping at 5 milliampers, the same equipment used to protect Hot Tubs where there is water everywhere. But the “BIG EXPERTS” force us to use overpriced, usually chintsy equipment. Those of us who have ‘been around the block’ as far as electrical equipment goes can usually spot ‘junk’ a mile away, but I trusted Schneider from the Catalog. Serves me right, ever since Groupe Schneider took them over and forced that Telemechanique crap on them, there’s been problems, and I’m talking far more than EVSE’s, but that’s not germane here other than to state that you SAFETY GUYS if you are really interested in it, should scream at UL for ‘recognizing’ such junk. UL is a farce compared to the GOOD… Read more »
Since the NFPA ‘advisory panels’ are all loaded with manufacturers’ representatives, the whole NEC is based on Collusion. I’m sure the EVSE manufacturers DID NOT want to have the requirement of a DISCONNECT, which is required for any other equipment of simiar power levels, and this usually in a residence, or in public areas where it may be raining or snowing, no less. This is analogous to there being NO MENTION of proper installation of Aluminum Romex in the 1960s and 70’s until all the “FULL HOUSEPOWER – Adequate Wiring CERTIFIED!” homes with 100 amps or more aluminum wiring burned down. AFTER that there appeared an article in the 1981 code to say the aluminum wiring must be properly installed. The romex itself was quietly removed from the market by all the manufacturers on the ‘advisory comittee’. Its Ironic that all cord-connected Level 1 equipment has an intrinsic attachment plug disconnect, and some even having an additional ground fault attachment plug, when much more high power stuff has no way for the user to disconnect it at all, except at the car itself, so if there is a problem at the car the ev-user is helpless because there is nothing… Read more »