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March 21, 2007

Purdue initiates review of procedures, will expand signage for utility facilities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University on Wednesday (March 21) announced it has initiated an independent review to determine what occurred leading to the accidental electrocution of freshman Wade Steffey in an Owen Hall utility room.

As part of the review, Purdue is looking for people with technical capabilities to perform such an analysis.

"Some of these resources may be on campus, but for others we may need to go outside the university," said Purdue spokesperson Jeanne Norberg. "University officials also have initiated an internal review of policies and procedures regarding facilities of this nature.

"We want to fully understand what happened. We are determined to do all we can to get these answers."

The university is checking all the utility vaults and similar facilities on campus to make sure they are secure. Signage also is being reviewed.

"Our buildings all meet applicable electrical code requirements for signage, which vary based on when a building was constructed," Norberg said. "However, the university has decided to change or update the signage on older facilities to meet the newer standards."

Only three of more than 160 major buildings on campus - Owen, Wiley and Tarkington halls - have exterior doors to their electrical vaults. Those will be the first to receive the new signs. New locks also have been installed.

The lock assembly on the door to the Owen Hall utility room has been sent out for independent analysis.

"This analysis may show us if this lock was faulty, damaged in some way or tampered with," Norberg said.

Steffey's visitation service will take place from 1-8 p.m. Sunday (March 25) at Allen Funeral Home, 3000 E. Third St., Bloomington, Ind. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday (March 26) at the Evangelical Community Church, 503 High St., Bloomington. Memorial contributions can be made to The Wade Steffey Memorial Fund in care of Allen Funeral Home, 3000 E. Third St., Bloomington, IN 47401 or any Fifth Third Bank.

Steffey also will be honored on April 23 along with seven other Purdue students during the university's Golden Taps ceremony The ceremony, for friends and families of students who have died in the past year, is open to the public and begins at 9 p.m.

Steffey's body was found on Monday (March 19) in the high-voltage utility room in Owen Hall by a university physical facilities employee who was called to check on a noise coming from the room.

Steffey, 19, was majoring in aviation technology. The Bloomington, Ind., native was last seen around 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 13 at the northwest corner of Owen Hall. He was reported missing on Jan. 16 when his roommate returned to campus after the Martin Luther King holiday break.

Source: Jeanne Norberg, (765) 494-2084, (765) 491-1460 (cell),

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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