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Carpet Shampooer’s Death Still a Puzzle

Times Staff Writer

County and state investigators Wednesday had not determined the cause of death of a 24-year-old man who collapsed Monday while shampooing a carpet in Mission Viejo.

Deputy Coroner William King said that Luke Gregory might have died of electrocution but that it will be days, if not weeks, before a ruling is made.

Gregory, an employee of Dial One California Cleaning Technicians in Laguna Hills, died while shampooing a rug at a home in the 25900 block of Robin Circle in Mission Viejo.

Orange County Fire Department paramedics called to the scene said an elderly resident of the home heard a scream and found Gregory lying on the floor, entangled in a lamp cord.

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He was taken to Mission Community Hospital in Mission Viejo where he was pronounced dead.

Because no burn marks were found on the body, investigators have been reluctant to rule Gregory’s death an accidental electrocution.

King said the cleaning equipment would be examined by the coroner’s office and investigators of the local office of the California Occupational Safety and Health Division. He said there also would be further examinations of the body.

“There are other tests to be completed, such as microscopic and toxicological exams. This is a very unusual case,” King said.

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However, he said it is not abnormal for bad burns not to be apparent on a body after a low-voltage electrocution.

Cal-OSHA District Manager Jim Brown agreed.

“There are unanswered questions at this point,” he said. “You swear the guy died of a heart attack, but there’s nothing to indicate that. This is not unusual in a low-voltage electrocution.”

Brown said his office has never investigated a similar case.

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“We’re still looking at the situation he was in,” he said. “We’re hopeful we’ll come across something, but at this point we have found nothing.”

A spokesman in Santa Clara at the state office of Underwriters’ Laboratories Inc., which investigates consumer complaints, said the organization had never been involved in a similar case.

Joan Grover, Gregory’s boss at Dial One, said the company had never experienced any problems with its machinery in its 14-year existence.

However, Grover said she learned after Gregory’s death that he had been experiencing severe headaches before the accident.

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“He was having severe headaches lately, to the point that he was concerned about it. But the coroner’s office has told us that nothing unusual has been found,” she said.


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