Patrolman Edward William Dolby was killed on July 14, 1906, when a heavy charge of electricity surged through Circuit 7 of the police department's Gamewell call box system. Officer Dolby was in the act of inserting his key into the lock of the box at Kentucky Avenue and the White River bridge, preparing to make his hourly call, when the current passed through his body. The shock caused Dolby to stagger backward and fall to the ground. His partner, Samuel Rariden ran to Dolby and heard him gasp out, "Don't touch it!"
Seeing Dolby was badly injured, Rariden ran to the nearest telephone and notified the Police Station. When he returned, Dolby was dead. The patrol wagon arrived a few minutes later and transported Dolby's body to the morgue where it was determined he had been electrocuted.
There were 11 other call boxes on Circuit 7, and several other policemen were badly shocked on July 14. Certified electricians were unable to determine why the surge occurred. They speculated that it was due to the crossing of the Gamewell wire and a wire on the circuit of the city electric lights. A storm during the morning of the 14th may have contributed to the accident.
Shortly after the death of Officer Dolby, fellow officers began to fit a small rubber shield over the handle of their brass Gamewell keys to protect the officers from touching the box or the key when opening a box. The rubber, being a non-conductor of electricity provided a shield from the current. Adjustments also were made by city electricians to provide further protection.
Prompted by Officer Dolby's death, an extensive inspection was made on foot of the overhead electrical wires in the mile square area. As a result of the inspection, the recommendation was made to bury all electric wires, whether of high or low tension, within the mile square. In a letter to Mayor Bookwalter, Charles E. Coots, Chief of the Fire Department, said, "Everyday adds to the tangle of cold wires, hot wires, guy wires, cables, transformers, etc.," creating conditions dangerous to life and property.
Patrolman Dolby was survived by his wife, Amanda, and two children. His funeral took place at his home; interment was in Crown Hill Cemetery.
Sources: Report of Superintendent of Police, Indianapolis, Ind., January 1, 1907. Indianapolis Star, July 15 and 22; September 20, 1906; November 22 and 27, 1906; February 11, 1908.