Drunkard dangles from 25,000 volt cable - and survives

Dangling from a 25,000 volt cable, is this the luckiest (or most stupid) man in Britain?

20th November 2006

Luckily for him, the drunkard - who drank a few too many ciders - decided to dangle from the power cable at one of the rare moments that it was switched off

Bare-chested and fuelled by drunken bravado, he dangles from a 25,000 volt power cable.

If he had tried his foolish stunt at any other time, Shane White would have been fried.

Fortunately for him, however, he had unwittingly picked a seven minute period when the power was turned off - the first in 15 months.

Oblivious to the danger, he leapt from a footbridge and, egged on by a gang of youths, hung from the railway cable for some time, eventually dropping to the ground only when his baseball cap blew off.

His prank was watched by astonished passengers on a stationary train, one of whom took this photo.

Opinion was divided over whether White was the luckiest man in Britain, or the most stupid. And the 22-year-old himself admitted:

"It was completely and utterly idiotic. I know I’m a fool for doing it."

White, unemployed, said he was so drunk on cider [[strong alcoholic apple juice]] and beer that he had no memory of his actions until he saw the picture in a newspaper.

He handed himself in to police and was yesterday given a four-month suspended sentence and a curfew order for trespassing on railway property.

Outside court he said: "I remember walking through Asda and my missus saying, 'Who’s that nutcase?', pointing at the paper. I realised it was me so I went straight to the police."

"When I found out the electricity had been cut off at that exact moment I couldn’t believe it. I won’t be doing this again, that’s for sure."

Magistrates were told that power to the cables had been cut between 4.05pm and 4.12pm on August 14 after an unrelated incident further down the track. Trains had been brought to a standstill.

Sara Beddow, prosecuting, added: "A train had been brought to a stop one third of a mile short of Tamworth."

A passenger saw Mr White take hold of the overhead line. Had the electricity been on there is no doubt Shane White would have died."

John Mcgregor, defending, said: "Over the last 15 months power has never been off apart from the seven minutes when he was hanging on."

"He was depressed and drunk over the breakdown of a relationship at that particular time."

"He accepts it was a stupid and idiotic action but no trains were inconvenienced because they had already been stopped earlier."

We almost had a new member of the Darwin club, people who take themselves out of the gene pool so as not to transfer their idiosy to their offspring.
Gee, I thought you could only be fried by those things if you were completing a circuit with the ground (thus allowing the energy to travel through you). Since he's not touching another wire or the ground, I thought it would be impossible to get shocked. By that measure, wouldn't any bird that ever sat on it be fried as well?

edit: Or perhaps it was a train cable, though it seems kinda silly to leave them exposed and not sheathed. Plus, it's the amprage that would be fatal, not the voltage (though the big number 25,000 looks a lot more frightening).
Juan, have you seen this website? www.darwinawards.com/ (external - login to view)
My aunt saw a drunk airline pilot fall out of the Grouse Mountain chairlift going up to the chalet for a party....

Not a bone broken...... drunks seem to be protected by mama nature. I guess airline pilot wasn't necessary but she said he did "announce" all the way down ...and no it wasn't "fasten your seatbelt".

Great link. There is a story in there about a wind storm that bent a tree over and lodged it under the edge of a man's roof. The man subsequently climbed up, staddled the tree, and proceeded to saw off the offending bit that was stuck under the roof. When the tree was cut off, it whipped upright and threw the man's body a mile.(so it said)

The following photo is of my house on Gabriola Island after a freezing rain deposited six or seven hundred pounds of ice one the top of a young Douglas Fir.. The tree leaned over and knocked out our electrical power so hydro were called and their crew sawed the top off the tree. The tree straightened up in a hell of a hurry and threw about six feet of itself onto a neighbor's roof about a hundred yards away.

It never occured to me to sit on the tree while the top was cut off.

Dexter Sinister
Quote: Originally Posted by snowlesView Post

Since he's not touching another wire or the ground, I thought it would be impossible to get shocked. By that measure, wouldn't any bird that ever sat on it be fried as well?

Odds are that you're quite right, but maybe not. Birds don't have anything that hangs down as close to the ground as that guy does. The cable to ground distance is too much for a spark to jump, air's a moderately good insulator, or dielectric I suppose, to be pedantically correct. But his feet are a lot closer to the ground than the cable is, and depending on other conditions, like if he's wet, the air's very humid or it's raining a little, , or he pees himself (which I think I'd certainly do under the circumstances) and generates a conductive trickle from his foot to the ground... bye bye

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