Officer, Neighbor Save Child From Deathtrap

April 25, 1991|By KRIS ANTONELLI | KRIS ANTONELLI,STAFF WRITER

Two men pulled an 8-year-old boy out of an electrical transformer ata city public housing development Tuesday, rescuing him from wires carrying 13,000 volts of electricity.

Terrence Tolbert of the 1300 block of Tyler Avenue was in critical condition in the burn unit at Children's National Medical Center in Washington yesterday. He had fallen into the electrical box, which sits behind a row of town homes inthe 1400 block of Tyler Avenue in Robinwood, apparently while tryingto retrieve a stick at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Annapolis police Officer Peter Medley, 37, and resident Joseph Parker, 43, pulled Terrence from the transformer. Although there were two locks on the transformer door, the officer said, the handle had been broken and the door swung allthe way open.

Peggy Mulloy, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., said the city housing authority owns the equipment and is responsible for maintaining the security around the transformer.

Harold Greene, executive director of the housing authority, said a maintenance crew last checked the box at 8 p.m. April 19.

"It was secure then," he said.

Officials are continuing to investigate the incident.

Greene said another child was injured about 11 years agowhen he got into the transformer. Greene said he will be looking through insurance records to find out exactly what happened.

"I wouldprefer not to comment until I have all the facts," he said.

Medley said Terrence probably was trying to retrieve what looked like partof a broomstick from inside the transformer. There is a 6- or 8- inch drop from the ground level to the bottom of the transformer, he said, and it appeared Terrence fell inside, hit his forehead and was shocked by the voltage.

"He was lying on the bottom up against the wires," Medley said.

Parker said he heard "people screaming and hollering" and followed the crowd to the transformer.

"All you could see was his legs sticking out," he said. "I tried to talk to him to keep him calm."

Terrence was lying face down in the box, up againstthe wires, Medley said. He had burns on his forehead, shoulder and left hand.

Medley and Parker said the boy was unconscious but beganto stir after hearing screams from the crowd of about 150 people whohad gathered around the transformer.

"I was concerned that he would touch the wires and electrocute himself again," Medley said.

Taking a wooden rake from someone in the crowd, Medleytried to hold thecable back and reach into the box.

"I took the rake from the officer," Parker said.

"He couldn't hold the cable back and reach intothe transformer at the same time."

Parker held the cable back with the rake, leaving Medley free to pull Terrence out.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Medley said. "I slept fine last night. But radio (dispatchers) said my voice cracked when I gave out the information about the volts."

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