Man spends 4 hours atop NC electrical tower; thousands lose power due to rescue attempt

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — Police said up to 20,000 people in south Charlotte, North Carolina, were without power Sunday during an effort to save a man’s life.

Officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said a man climbed 85 feet to the top of an energized electrical tower. It took negotiators nearly four hours to get him to climb down safely.

CMPD Major Brian Foley said the man appeared to be in the advanced stages of drug or alcohol abuse.

“That tower was energized with six lines, each carrying about 115,000 volts,” said Foley. “I don’t know what your faith is, but I think God was watching over him today.”

During the event, Duke Energy de-energized the tower, causing widespread outages.

“This is about saving someone’s life. I know some people were upset about their power being cut off, but truly this is about trying to protect an individual and keep them from dying,” said Foley.

Police said negotiations on the ground were made even more difficult by bystanders. Foley said people were making jokes on social media, going so far as to place bets on whether the man would fall. One person flew a drone up near the man on the tower, creating an incredible risk.

Police said that person was detained and will be charged.

“That makes me sick. This is about trying to save a life, and when people look at it as purely entertainment, that’s a sad state of affairs for our society,” said Foley.

Once the man climbed down the tower safely, he was transported to an area hospital for medical and mental treatment.

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