Did anyone ever get the details on this SeaRiver incident?
Some Massachusetts Maritime Academy cadets have the potential to earn a six-figure income after graduation, but with the high salary comes a heightened safety risk.
Christopher Erickson, 24, Class of '07, was electrocuted Wednesday, according to Lt. Tim Tilghman, senior investigating officer for the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Galveston, Texas.
Erickson was working aboard the S/R Wilmington, a chemical tanker that services the East Coast, Tilghman said. The ship is owned by SeaRiver Maritime, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
The circumstances surrounding Erickson’s death are still under investigation, but Adm. Richard Gurnon, MMA president, said Erickson was reportedly holding a wire while a circuit breaker was tested and was electrocuted.
Tilghman said Erickson was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Houston, where he was pronounced dead.
Erickson had been serving on the S/R Wilmington as a third assistant engineer since shortly after graduating, Gurnon said.
Originally from Holden, Erickson was a student-athlete who excelled in the classroom and on the football field. He was also a campus leader and served on the regimental staff, which is the highest level of student leadership among cadets.
Erickson, who graduated cum laude at the top of his engineering class, was also chosen by the college’s faculty and staff to serve as the cadet chief engineer, a title only one student can hold among the hundreds in the engineering department, Gurnon said.
Erickson’s football coach at MMA could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Erickson’s death came just days before the academy’s training ship left for its 50-day annual sea term, a solemn reminder to the hundreds of cadets who soon may hold similar jobs.
“Not only are the working conditions more arduous than a bank or Wall Street, but the responsibilities are greater,” said Gurnon. “Mistakes not only result in millions of dollars of cargo, but environmental disasters as well.”
This isn’t the first time an MMA graduate has been electrocuted at sea.
In 1986, Alison Rollins — the daughter of the former longtime Cape & Islands District Attorney Philip Rollins — was working as an assistant engineer on a University of Rhode Island research vessel. While returning to her home port in Narragansett, Rollins was in the ship’s muffler room and was electrocuted when the vessel’s electrical load was switched from the ship’s power to shore power, according to court records.
While Gurnon acknowledged the dangers of the trade, he also said accidents occur in any field, and the education provided to MMA students greatly reduces costly mistakes.
“That’s why when a tremendous amount of responsibility is in the hands of young people, we make sure they’re very well trained people,” he said.