The man was at the South Boulevard Purple Line stop around 11 p.m. Sunday with two other people when he came into contact with the third rail, according to CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis.
The man, Zachary McKee, 27, of Ossian, Ind., was pronounced dead at Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston at 11:52 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
It turned out that the man had climbed down to the tracks to urinate when he fell onto the third rail, according to a news release from the Evanston Police Department.
Authorities have not said whether the man urinated on the third rail.
One of the two people the man was with ran down stairs to the booth at the entrance at the station and alerted the security guard on duty to the situation, Lukidis said. The security guard then called Evanston Police and Fire officials.
The London Daily Mail reported that McKee had served four years with the U.S. Marines, in the Anbar province in Iraq and in Iwakuni, Japan. He served in the Marines for four years, until 2010, the Daily Mail reported.
At the time of his death, McKee was working toward his undergraduate degree in political science and government at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, the Daily Mail reported.
McKee’s Twitter page indicated that he was in Chicago for the weekend, and that he had attended a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and visited restaurants in Chinatown. He also tweeted that he stayed in a “jank ass” hotel in Chinatown.
Before his death, McKee tweeted, “There’s no stopping us right now.”
Contrary to legends and lore, the program “Mythbusters” has concluded that urinating directly onto the third rail is unlikely to cause death in itself. In fact, some purported cases of such deaths are actually believed to have involved direct bodily contact with the rail, as appears to be the case in the Sunday night incident.
The Straight Dope reported a couple of years ago that there have been two other local cases of people coming into contact with the third rail after urinating on the ‘L’ tracks.
In 1991, a 14-year-old boy was killed after urinating on the Red Line ‘L’ tracks at the Morse Avenue stop in Rogers Park. While some reports say the cause was urination on the third rail, the Straight Dope concludes that he likely suffered electrocution from direct contact.
In 1977, a man named Sang Yeul Lee trespassed onto the ground-level Brown Line tracks at Kedzie Avenue to urinate. Based on autopsy findings, the Straight Dope says he too likely died by coming into direct contact with the electrified rail.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.