Repairman electrocuted in St. Augustine Beach

Man found dead on roof of Kangaroo gas station; cooling unit sparking

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter, Hailey Winslow

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. - A man was found dead after working on a cooling unit at a gas station in St. Augustine early Thursday morning.

Police identified the man as 47-year-old Robert Leslie Wagner of Orange Park.

Around 2:30 a.m. a St. Augustine Beach officer was patrolling the area, when the officer noticed a ladder on the side of the Kangaroo Express gas station, located at 351 State Road A1A/Beach Boulevard.

The officer also noticed an unoccupied truck near the ladder, according to St. Augustine Beach police.

The officer went inside the store to ask the clerk about the ladder.

"The clerk said she didn't know anything about the ladder or the truck so the officer did further investigation, basically suspicious in nature," said Chief Robert Hardwick, of the St. Augustine Beach Police Department. "He climbed the ladder, and as he got on top of the roof he noticed the bottom half of a man of an adult figure."

Officers said Wagner's body was found inside the cooling unit that was still on and sparking, leading them to believe he was electrocuted.

"The other night clerk actually advised us that there was an electrician actually working on the roof of a broken down cooler unit, and he had been there since between 6 and 8 o'clock last night," said Hardwick.

Officers said Wagner was not an employee of Kangaroo Express, but an employee of Integrity First Refrigeration of DeLand, Florida.

The Sheriff's Office is assisting St. Augustine Beach Police with the investigation.

St Johns County Sheriff's investigators said Wagner electrocuted himself by accidentally cutting a live wire. Tim Wood of Snyder Heating and Air explained to News4Jax how that might have happened.

"If there's a bare spot, and it's touching metal somewhere, it can actually electrify the whole entire housing, so I don't know how far he got into the repair," Wood said. "Also, with all the rain we had, there was more than likely water sitting on the roof. His shoes could have also been damp. I'm sure it wasn't his first call of the day, so he could have had wet feet, and as we learned in grade school, electricity and water definitely don't mix."

The clerks told police they had been having problems with their cooler Wednesday and that the store had hired an outside contracted electrician.

"The Kangaroo Express maintenance team was here all day yesterday and then they called the contracted electrician refrigerator and repair unit to come and actually fix and repair the unit," said Hardwick.

Wood said the units have what's called a "disconnect."

"It acts as a breaker, like the breaker in an electrical panel box," Wood said. "It literally just cuts off the supply of high voltage electricity to the unit."

Family members told police they were in contact with Wagner until about 10 p.m. Wednesday. Police said they believe the electrocution happened around that time.

"Our officers weren't thinking of an electrocution (at first)," said Hardwick. "They were thinking of a suspicious incident; you know, burglary in process or robbery in process. We don't know, suspicious circumstances, so absolutely very dangerous situation for everybody involved and such a tragic event for the family."

The body will be sent to the medical examiner to determine the exact cause of death.

The Kangaroo Express is a 24-hour gas station and was open during the incident.
Officers closed the gas station due to electricity issues. It's unclear when it will reopen for business.

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.