Yesterday marked the seventh anniversary of Jodie Lane's death... She was a 30-year-old doctoral candidate at the Teacher’s College at Columbia University. During the late afternoon of Jan. 16, 2004, Lane, who lived on East 11th Street with her boyfriend, was walking her dogs. She was electrocuted on a snow-covered Con Edison junction box on the southwest corner of 11th Street at First Avenue.
The street was named in her honor in the spring of 2005.
I'm bringing all this up because I just heard that her father, Roger M. Lane, passed away in Texas on Dec. 31. He was 63. Many people were moved by his crusade for justice in his daughter's death. In November 2004, ConEd agreed to pay Lane's family more than $6.2 million and to set up a $1 million scholarship fund in her name at Columbia.
Wrote Gothamist at the time: "We're also very impressed with the efforts of the Lane family, especially Roger Lane, Jodie's father, to push Con Ed to improve its procedures, and we thank the family for caring enough to make sure other New Yorkers are safe."
Gunnar Hellekson, who spearheaded the reform of safety regulations for New York State’s electrical utilities following Lane's death, remembered Roger Lane in a recent post at OnePeople.
"As part of his settlement with ConEd, he’d negotiated access to ConEdison’s safety data, and he spent much of his time in retirement pouring over it. He was using that methodical, exacting, analytical mind to find trends, holes, and anomalies. He wanted to hold ConEd to account, even years after his daughter’s death. He didn’t want another father to suffer the way he did."
I remember the night of Jan. 16, 2004, fairly clearly. It was a Friday, and I was out at Sophie's. This was the story that everyone seemed to be talking about. Did you hear about the woman who was electrocuted walking her dogs? It was such a harmless, everyday activity that you might not think twice about. The tragedy was a reminder of how much life hangs in balance on a daily basis.
Hellekson ended his post this way:
"Jodie Lane’s death brought a great deal of attention to the safety of New York’s electrical system. Until her death, a horse being electrocuted or a woman being burned alive were treated as freak accidents, an unusual but expected risk of living in New York City. After a year of hearings and public attention, it is now understood in both city government and in Albany that these are not acceptable risks, and that something can be done about them. That is Jodie Lane’s legacy. That legacy was secured in 2005, when East 11th Street was named 'Jodie Lane Place.'"
Read more about the Jodie S. Lane Public Safety Foundation here.