Charles Gaylor, 12, from left, Kenneth Gaylor, 13, and Carlos Morgan, 10 were walking back from Burns Elementary-Middle School at about 8:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, with their 14-year-old friend when the teen touched a downed wire and got shocked.
(Photo: Romain Blanquart, Detroit Free Press)
DETROIT - Police are calling a 13-year-old boy a hero, after he used a piece of wood to knock his friend off a live wire that was downed by Sunday's powerful storms as the teen was being shocked early Monday.
The 14-year-old victim arrived at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital with a faint pulse and was in critical condition, Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said. The 13-year-old, Kenneth Gaylor, was unharmed.
Police believe the victim, whose name hasn't been released, wasn't immediately killed due to Kenneth Gaylor's fast thinking, Woody said.
"(Kenneth) potentially saved the boy's life," Woody said. "He's a hero today."
The teen was walking with Kenneth, 13; Kenneth's brother, Charles Gaylor, 12; and Carlos Morgan, 10, just after 8 a.m. They were heading home after they found out classes had been canceled for the day at Burns Elementary/Middle School.
A DTE Energy worker was parked in a company vehicle on Lyndon near the school, steering people away from downed wires crossing the street, the boys and Woody said.
But the boys tried to cut through a vacant lot behind the school, where the wire was also down.
"We ducked under it, but (the 14-year-old), he's tall, so he had to push the (wire) up and that's when he got shocked, started bleeding out his nose and fell to the floor," Kenneth said. "I grabbed a stick and started hitting the cord, and it wouldn't come off his hand - it was like glued to it. And it finally just dropped."
The younger teen recalled advice from his mother in the midst of the emergency, as he explained what made him think to use a stick and not push his friend himself.
"Cause I seen the stick," he said. "My mama told me not to touch electrical stuff, so I just knew not to do that."
The other boys also called for help.
Terry Abbott, a communications officer for the Education Achievement Authority, which operates Burns Elementary/Middle School, today said Principal Dwayne Richardson called DTE to report an emergency situation after he spotted the downed wires on his way in at 7:10 a.m.
As he walked with cones to put around the wires, he spotted the teen on the ground. The power line was hanging above the boy. Firefighters warned the principal to stay away because they didn't know if there was a live wire beneath the teen.
"But the principal said he knew he had to move the student and perform CPR to try to help him," Abbott said in a district release. "Not knowing whether the student was in contact with another power line, Principal Richardson grabbed the student and dragged him from underneath the dangling power line and immediately began performing CPR."
Woody said the boy had no pulse when he left the scene but EMS workers detected a faint pulse when they arrived at the hospital.
Gwendolyn Gray, mother of the 10-year-old boy, Carlos, said she didn't receive the text normally sent out to parents when school is canceled.
"That little boy didn't even have to walk that way, if they would have let parents know there wasn't school," said Gray, 43.
The Gaylor boys' mother, Timika Halthon, 38, said she's devastated the accident happened to a boy who plays at her home with her sons nearly every day.
"We pray that (he) recovers and I'm praying for his family," Halthon said. "And I just hope God be with that little boy and heal him."
Joseph White, 49, who's lived in the home next door to the vacant lot since about 1995, said he called about the downed lines Sunday night and again just after 7 a.m. today.
"I told him I'm right by a school - there's a downed wire on my fence," said White, adding that a DTE employee told him "there were 200,000 calls ahead of me."
"I feel sorry for his mother because it has to be hard to send a kid to school and he never comes home," said White. "And I also feel bad for the three little boys with him - they had to see that. Just as I came out, they were screaming."
DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said the company is investigating and confirmed that a boy had contact with a live wire.
"We're trying to get that information now," he said when asked when DTE first learned about the downed wires. "Safety is a huge issue for us, so we're trying to find out what took place to try to prevent that from happening again."