By KEVIN NEVERS
A Chesterton woman died in her home Monday of electrocution after a space
heater apparently arced as she was unplugging it.
Barbara Lynn Johnston, 60, of 435 S. Fifth St., was found in a closet of her
home shortly before 1 p.m. by her daughter, Pam Cochran, and a family
friend, Ed Hutson. Hutson, who had made arrangements to take Johnston to the
airport that morning for a flight to Florida to join her husband, removed
the hinges from the locked front door to gain entry to the home when his
knocking went unanswered, Chesterton Police said.
Porter County Coroner Roger Kleist estimates that Johnston died around 9
a.m. His investigation of the scene indicates that Johnston had been running
the space heater from a socket in the closet and attempted to unplug it
while it was still on, he told the Chesterton Tribune, and that an arc was
created between the plug and the socket and shocked her. In cases of
electrocution, Kleist explained, the shock disrupts the heartís normal
electrical rhythm and causes it to stop.
Johnston was fully clothed at the time of the accident and does not appear
to have been wet, he added, and the space heater itself seemed to be in
Police said that Johnstonís coffee pot and curling iron were both found to
be on when investigators arrived on the scene.
Chesterton Assistant Fire Chief Mike Orlich said that appliances should
always be turned off before plugging them in or unplugging them because
their draw of electricity when activated is immediate and continuous.
A full obituary appears elsewhere in this edition of the Tribune.