Woman "electrocuted" by faulty USB adapter


Sheryl Anne Aldeguerdeath’s death has prompted warning against buying cheap USB chargers or adaptors…

I was looking for “electrocucted” in the article, but that appears to be your typo, Rob.

Looks like you’ve got a typo in your headline there. The proper past tense of “electrocuct” is “electrocacked.”


Burns to her ears from her headphones. Pretty scary way to be shocked dead… I wonder how a device designed to put out a small current at 5vDC could fail so catastrophically to regulate voltage.

Blaming the USB charger seems to be rather speculative at this point. She was found dead with burns on her chest from the laptop and on her ears from headphones. I’m no expert, but based only on the article, it sounds like the defect could have been at any number of places. Frightening and tragic either way, though.

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ELECTROCUCTED??? Use spell check much, Boing Boing?

Electrocarked, surely?

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“I hope you’ve all learned your lesson.”

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She died sometime between the last time she was seen alive and the time she was found dead.

I’m glad the article clarified that. I was wondering if this could have been a time travel mishap. Now my weekend can proceed as planned.


You are the third person to mention this. Read comments, much? Also jeeez, typos happen, no need to get so angry over a typo.

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Mind your own beeswax, lose the attitude.



What voltages does Australia use? I ask because I’ve been hit by 110v (the US residential standard) many many times and never once received anything resembling a burn mark.

EDIT: Rob, how dare you make a mistake!? Don’t you understand the importance of placating the grammar/spelling Nazi?

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At that size and power density you are dealing with a switching power supply to step the house voltage down to 5V. There really isn’t a lot in the way of isolation between the high voltage side and output. In the old wall wart days your high side was directly insulated from the low, unless the insulation failed nothing could ever cross (and if the insulation failed it’s likely the high side would short and trip a breaker). What I find curious is there would be enough conductor material on the high side to allow enough power to actually electrocute someone. I mean I’ve touched live bare wires before (all be it 120V US) and it was not pleasant, but I didn’t end up on the floor either.

Personally I find the comments to be more alarming than anything. Everyone is wanting a mandate for GFCI (or apparently RCD for the non-US crowd) on EVERYTHING… It’s like saying we should have banned lithium ion batteries when that first cell phone caught fire…

I think the important thing here from a pedantic PoV is that the ‘electrocuted’ person actually died.


This comment is especially hillarious because it is unintentionally so.


The presence of in-ear burn marks is similarly curious. Even if the adapter just decided that a stray blob-o’-solder was going to be directly bridging 230VAC to the +5v USB line, there are a lot of delicate little ICs waiting to pop and die at the first whiff of overvoltage, a lot of little traces that definitely aren’t there to carry power, and then the headphones themselves, which in almost any model, have a lot of plastic surrounding the guts, for comfort and durability, and a little coil of magnet wire that would beg for mercy at a watt or two…

In terms of lethal electrocution, all it takes is having your heart set aflutter in just the wrong way, which is unlikely but can happen at very modest power levels; but inflicting visible burns is talking nontrivial power.

The USA has 120 volts at 60 cycles per second delivering 15 amps to a standard wall socket. Calculating with Watt’s Law, that’s max power 1800 watts before a breaker trips off.

Australia & New Zealand, though, have 240 VAC 50 HZ at 10 amps. That’s 2400 watts…

I don’t mind being hit with US house current, I normally test 120vac wires by touching them. But 240 volts is very uncomfortable, even on a dry fingertip. I’d hate to have it run through my relatively ■■■■■ earholes!

TV article about it last night showed the burned interior of the USB adapter. Also the adapter was an illegally imported after-market device. The cheapest you can get. It lacked features which are specifically required for mains powered devices in this country.


10A is only the rated current on a single GPO. The cable feeding that GPO will be rated at 15A but will easily carry more. The breaker feeding that circuit will be set to trip at 20 or 30A. In modern homes there is an RCD on power circuits but the cheap mains adapter in this case didn’t have an earth pin.

This looks like she was really unlucky. Connected to a dodgy mains device and a well earthed laptop.

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