Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Dad Should Be Dead #6

Let's see if I can do this one justice.

My dad and his cousin were, of course, crossing a farmers field (they do that a lot in Idaho, I guess) on their way to somewhere dad couldn't remember. They reached a barbed wire fence they needed to cross. No big deal.

Dad's cousin went under, or between the wires of the fence. My dad, being much taller had to go over. He grabbed the top wire to use it as leverege to jump over the fence, but was immediately electrocuted. The shock was continuous. He could not let go. He tried to jerk his hand off, but it had siezed up from the electricity and would not move.

Most electrical fences run on a pulse, so if something or someone touches it, they just get a quick, sharp zap, and that's it. This fence was not. It was a continual flow of electricity.

His cousin tried getting him off by ramming him from the side. No use. He tried standing on a nearby log to try and break the current. But everything was wet. Electricity was surging through him from his hand up his arm and radiating through his body. The pain was undescribable.

Finally my dad told his cousin if he didn't get off he wasn't going to make it for much longer. So his cousin tore off through the field with the intention of finding the owner to get him to turn the power off to the fence. In the mean time, my dad passed out, still stuck to the fence.

By the time he woke up, he was at someone's house, with basically the entire neighborhood (which were his family) over there. His mom was there, probably crying, as any mother would be. My dad remembers he said something, but doesn't remember what. It did make everyone laugh. I thought he probably apologized to his mom for breaking his glasses again. :) He doesn't remember if they ever took him to the hospital. I imagine they did. He developed a pretty bad stutter for some time after this event. He thinks it had to do with this.

At some point after this all took place, my dad found out what had happened with this fence and the owner.

The owner had been stealing electricity from a power line, running 7000 volts of AC electricity to some kind of converter. It was being converted to DC power and running along the fence line. Initially there was a pulse on the fence. But the voltage was so high it basically forced the mechanism to stay on continuously. As the electricity traveled along the fence, it was shorting out from the grasses along the fence, so by the time it got to where my dad was, he was being hit with about 700 volts of DC electricity. If it had been AC, it would have killed him. If he would have been there much longer, it would have killed him.

The farmer was charged and sent to prison for several years for stealing electircity. If my dad would have died, he would have been charged with manslaughter.

Now, that was a pretty bad experience. But I'm not sure it was as bad as the time my dad peed on an electrical fence...He didn't say much about that. But he did assure us that, yes, water conducts electricity! OUCH!

-Chel

8 comments:

Faz the Cat said...

Dear Chel
Wow, that is some story. I am glad your Dad survived and lived to tell the tale. Hi to Chelle. Christine and FAZ

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

Scary stuff!

I remember I used to take horse back riding lessons when I was little. The fence where I took lessons was electrified and I used to be scared that the horse would brush up against it when I was riding him and get shocked!

Erika said...

Oh jeez that's scarrrry! Once I was reaching back to plug in my computer and i didn't know if I had it all the way in... so I felt around. I stuck my fingers right on the prongs! OUCH!

Kara said...

Wow, how scary!

Emily said...

Your dad really should be dead! Shame on that dirty farmer.

Jolynn said...

That is crazy. But I picture it perfectly. I used to walk through those fields. And I've only touched an electric fence once. I think it's a rite of passage in this state. You have to do it. Luckily nothing so horrible happened. It just stung.

sarala said...

I touched a mildly electric fence once. Just felt like a nasty jolt. Your dad is not only lucky to be alive but not to have serious nerve damage like those hit by lightning who survive. What a story.

Diana Gibson said...

I have heard about this type of practice (eletric fencing) and it makes one wonder if they should do away with it! Ouch!!!!

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