Friday, August 01, 2008

Darwin Awards, Dallas edition

The Dallas Fire Department got a call today around 5 AM about a report of a man on fire on a utility pole. When they got there they found several cut copper wires on the ground and the man, his clothing in tatters and burned away from his body, atop the utility pole's power transformer.

During what police speculate was an attempted copper wire theft, the victim grabbed the wrong wire and got 7,620 volts for his trouble. The force of the shock caused his skin to adhere to the metal transformer. Rescuers had to cut or peel him away before they could get him down.

In addition to receiving third degree burns over 50% of his body, the would-be thief faces third degree felony charges,

If he lives long enough.

While I am full of the milk of human kindness, it is hard to work up a lot of sympathy in cases like this.

With the rise in the price of copper in the US and elsewhere, copper theft has become a real problem in the last few years. Thieves will ruin $500,000 worth of equipment or property for $100 worth of copper wire or pipe. In addition to the economic cost to the owners, an increasing number of people are killed or seriously injured while attempting the theft.

The vandalism is more than just a nuisance -- damaged equipment such as power lines, air conditioners and communication towers place innocent people at risk.

Not to mention stupid ones.

Update: just saw that the above mentioned individual passed away from injuries received during this ill-advised operation. Certainly sad (he was somebody's child once) but not surprising, given the extent of the trauma sustained.

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