Boy, 8, severely burned by electrical transformer Child is in critical condition after face, hand and shoulder are burned

April 25, 1991|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff Frank D. Roylance contributed to this story.

An 8-year-old Annapolis boy remained in critical condition today after he was severely burned by an electrical transformer.

Terrence Tolbert, of the 1300 block of Tyler Ave., received burns to his face, left hand and right shoulder after he crawled into an electrical transformer about 6:20 p.m. Tuesday. He was admitted to Children's Hospital National Medical Center in Washington.

Annapolis police Officer Peter E. Medley and Annapolis resident Joseph Parker helped rescue Terrence.

Medley said it still hasn't sunk in that he helped to rescue the boy.

"I slept all last night [Tuesday]," Medley said. "It hasn't hit yet."

The five-year veteran of the police force said he doesn't even remember having any reaction upon finding the boy in the transformer other than to get him out.

"I didn't have a reaction till they told me it was 13,000 volts," Medley said. "[The dispatcher] said my voice cracked."

Terrence was playing with a group of children near his home in the Robinwood public housing community when he went to retrieve a 3-inch stick, possibly part of a broom handle, that had been accidentally tossed into the transformer. Police believe Terrence's head came in contact with a cable which shocked him and caused him to fall deeper into the 4 1/2 -foot transformer box behind 1414 Tyler Ave.

Medley, who initially had been called to the area to investigate a transformer explosion, said he found nearly 150 people around the transformer, many of them screaming for help.

With a wooden rake borrowed from someone in the crowd, and Parker's assistance, he was able to move the live cables away from the boy, who was squirming and screaming. Medley grabbed Terrence's shirt and pulled him from the box.

There were locks on the unfenced transformer's doors, Medley said. But residents said the locks often have been tampered with, leaving the transformers accessible.

Officer Dermott L. Hickey, a police spokesman, said there does not appear to be any evidence of negligence or criminal intent in the accident. The transformer bore "high voltage" warnings, but "as you well know if you have children, signs don't necessarily mean anything."

In 1980, a 14-year-old youth was critically burned and two companions were injured at the same Robinwood transformer when they found a broken lock and opened the lid.

Art Slusark, a spokesman for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., said the transformer is Housing Authority property, and referred calls to Annapolis housing officials, who were unavailable.

Slusark said a Baltimore youth was burned in a similar incident Monday night at Hollander Ridge Apartments at Pulaski Highway and Moravia Road.

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