Officials: Man on pole jolted by 6,900 volts

PHILADELPHIA - October 26, 2010 Authorities say nearly 7,000 volts of electricity shot through a man who was trying to cut down wires above railroad tracks in Philadelphia Tuesday night in order to get the copper for money.

The 39-year-old man was stranded 40 feet above the ground, with bolt cutters dangling from a power line next to him when the Action Cam arrived. He was waiting to be rescued, causing SEPTA and Amtrak to shut down service on trains that used the rails near Glenwood Avenue and Tusculum Street.

It all started about 5:30 p.m.

A person who identified himself as a cousin of the man told Action News that the man was high and looking for a way to get money. He grabbed the bolt cutters and shimmied up the pole on Amtrak property with a goal of scoring some copper.

"We tried to tell him, you know, 'Don't do it.'" Jorge Mandingo said. "'Don't try to do that.'"

Authorities say when the man closed the cutters on the wire, 6,900 volts of electricity jolted through him. He had to stay on the pole until a special unit from the Philadelphia Fire Department could arrive with special equipment in order to get him down safely.

"When you get stuck at a high angle like that and there's no easy way of getting down," said Captain John Cleary of the Philadelphia Police, "that's what requires the use of our specialized technical rescue equipment."

Using a series of ropes, harnesses and a ladder, firefighters carefully lowered the man on a stretcher back to the ground. After 2 and a half hours stuck on the pole, he was finally in an ambulance and headed for medical treatment.

He's being treated at Temple University Hospital. After his treatment is complete, he will be handed over to authorities.

Authorities tell Action News that the Trenton and Chestnut Hill West line of the SEPTA commuter trains were shut down because of the man who climbed up a utility pole near the tracks. Amtrak trains between Trenton and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia have also been stopped because of the man on the pole.

Amtrak officials say that rail service was restored by 8:30 p.m.

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