Ex-Marine electrocuted after falling onto Purple Line tracks
(MCT) — Zachary McKee laughed after falling onto Purple Line tracks in Evanston late Sunday, his younger brother recalled. Then the former Marine, who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq, used his right arm to push himself up, making contact with the electrified third rail.
"And that was it," Lucas McKee, 25, said in an interview Tuesday. "It happened so fast."
Zachary McKee, 27, of Ossian, Ind., died as he was about to earn his political science degree and start work at the Indiana Statehouse, according to relatives. He was in Chicago on Sunday to watch a Cubs game and celebrate his brother-in-law's birthday, Lucas McKee said.
After the game, the McKees and their brother-in-law missed their stop at Jarvis and got off at Evanston's South Boulevard station to catch a return train, according to Lucas McKee, also of Ossian.
Evanston police say surveillance video shows that at about 11:10 p.m., McKee apparently tried to climb down to the tracks and fell.
"He stumbled, or maybe he was going to sit down on the platform, but he fell off onto the tracks," Lucas McKee said.
Lucas McKee performed CPR on his brother, and a security guard at the station called for help. Zachary McKee was rushed to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where he was later pronounced dead.
Born and raised in Ossian, about 20 miles south of Fort Wayne, Zachary McKee studied for two years atIndiana University-Purdue University Fort Waynebefore joining the Marine Corps, according to his father, Mark.
He served four years in the Marines, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, his family said.
Upon his return from the military, McKee re-enrolled at IPFW, where he studied political science. He was set to graduate in May, start work at the Indiana Statehouse and eventually attend law school in the fall, his father said.
"For the first time in his life, he finally let his hair down for a few days, and he died from it," his father said, fighting back tears as he spoke on the phone from the family's home in Ossian.
While family members acknowledged that there had been drinking during the outing, the father pointed out that his son demonstrated responsibility by taking public transportation.
"He was so well-liked," Mark McKee said. "We're heartbroken. I miss him to death."
Zachary McKee was intrigued with politics, his father said, and interned at the Wells County Republican Party office in Indiana.
"He was indeed an outstanding young man," said the county's Republican Party chairman, Ralph Garcia.
Garcia said he was saddened to learn of McKee's death, adding that he thought of him as a grandchild or nephew.
"He would have been able to integrate all of his talents to make one heck of a politician if he wanted to or an attorney if he wanted," Garcia said. "I wish we had more kids like Zach — those who have a purpose in life, aspirations and patriotism."
Funeral arrangements are pending, the McKee family said.