Freaky Flint History - Electrifying August 12th, 1912

August 12th, 1912
By Joe Schipani

It was a Monday evening around seven o’clock, when two brothers, John and Melvin LoRee, were working at the Flint Electric Company on St Johns Street.

John was a supervisor for the electric company and Melvin was hired to do general repairs. Melvin had only been working at the electric company for about four months. He was a good worker and often finished his work early and would do cleaning and maintenance to occupy his time during his shift.

On this day Melvin was cleaning the blade switches near the transformers.
Melvin turned off a line of transformers not knowing the transformer for the switches was on a different line.

John, keeping an eye on his brother, noticed that the blade Melvin was getting ready to clean was live with 5,000 volts of electricity. John shouted to his brother, but it came too late.

As Melvin touched the blade, the electricity went through him gluing him to the blade. John heard Melvin’s awful scream but knew he could not touch him or he would meet the same fate.

Melvin’s body stiffened and quickly fell to the ground when John turned off the power and called for help. Afraid to touch him, John stood by helplessly and watched his brother’s body twist and jerk until his life came to an end.

By the time an ambulance arrived on the scene there was nothing that could be done to save Melvin.

The body was taken to the coroner’s office where it was examined. Melvin’s little finger on his right hand was completely burned off. His forearm on the right side was completely scorched to the bone and the muscles from the shoulder to the elbow were completely sheared. 

After a brief examination, the body was sent to the morgue. Coroner Taylor had the city put together a juried inquest into the company’s operation policies. The inquest was held the following Thursday at Flint’s city hall.

The Flint Electric Company was forced to add policies to prevent this from happening again.

Melvin, the 36-year-old man who moved from Detroit to Flint searching for a better life for his family, was laid to rest in a cemetery in Columbiaville.

Melvin LoRee was survived by his aging parents, his fiancé, two brothers, and two sisters.

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

Flint Photo Credit: David C. Lucas- DS Photo

No comments:

Post a Comment