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Location: Middleburg (Jacksonville), Florida, United States

Published in Trains magazine, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Alabama man electrocuted;

tried to steal copper wire

A man trying to steal copper wire from utility poles was electrocuted in a marshy area about three miles north of the Cochrane-Africatown USA bridge, Mobile police said Monday.

Two CSX Railroad maintainers found the man’s body about 9 a.m., police said. Mobile police identified the man the next day as Herman Bentley, 43, of Saraland, the Mobile Press-Register reported today.

The railroaders found the body near the banks of the Mobile River near the Akka railroad crossing, located north of Chickasabogue Creek, said CSX Transportation spokesman Gary Sease in Jacksonville, Fla.

Officer John Young, a Mobile police spokesman, said the man apparently walked to the site where his body was found.

“Our preliminary investigation shows that he was attempting to steal copper wires and inadvertently cut into power lines and was electrocuted,” Young said.

Bernie Fogarty, Alabama Power Co. spokesman, said Monday that the theft of copper wiring is an ongoing problem. He said he was aware of at least one electrocution last year of a person attempting to steal wire. Fogarty said that death occurred near Opelika.

It had not been determined late Monday when the man found near Mobile might have died, but apparently it was not long before he was found because his body did not show signs of decomposition, Young said.

The body was taken to the Mobile office of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for autopsy which should help determine the time of death, Young said.

Claudell Wilson, a CSX railroad signal maintainer, said Monday morning that he and fellow signal maintainer Ed Gunter discovered the body when they went to the area to determine why electric power to railroad signals had failed.

Wilson said he didn’t get a good look at the body, but his partner told him the man was still clutching the copper wire that electrocuted him.

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