16,600 VOLTS!

In Feb 1996, these pictures were taken of a guy who is high on PCP and attempting to kill himself. The situation lasted for about 45 minutes. This being toward the end of the situation, this person had already defied death by walking from a previous power pole by means of tight rope walking on the low voltage wire and hanging on to the other wire that was around him. The Power Company had de-energized the low voltage wire at this point. What you see now is this guy ascending to the next level of HIGH VOLTAGE wires. Unfortunately for him, the wires above him are energized at 16,600 volts WYE system. "for all you overhead junkies"

This guy reaches out his hand and grabs the high voltage conductor! At that instant, 16,600 volts shot through his body. If you can believe it, the guy is inside of the ball of fire that you see. He did not fall at that moment (probably couldn’t turn loose even if he wanted too). The air surrounding him becomes ionized and begins to conduct current and actually burn. The small ball of orange fire that you see projecting toward the street light is where the arc went to ground through the secondary conductors. (this is probably traveling through the wire that can be seen in picture #1) Notice the whipping action of the wire he is holding onto. You might find it interesting to compare all the pictures with one another to try to see if you can pick out all the changes as massive amounts of current try to reach ground !

As you can see, the ball of fire has started to subside. If you look closely you can still see his legs (actually, they look like faint shadows) at the bottom of the fireball as he is still standing on the cross arm. A flash of electrical power of this magnitude would kill most normal people. This guy actually survived contact with the high voltage line and to this day is still alive! Go figure?!?!

Here is my attempt to convert these photos into an animated gif.
I cut them down to the most common square.

A special thanks to Ben of the L.A. Power & Water Dept in California for providing this information!

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