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NB Power says pair of transmission tower climbing teens risked injury or death

Noah Kingston, right, and Justin Kennedy look on from atop a power transmission tower in Saint John, N.B., in an undated handout photo. A safety official in New Brunswick says the two teens don't know how close they came to serious harm after trying a stunt that has hospitalized or killed three people in two other provinces.
July 30, 2016 - 9:00 PM

SAINT JOHN, N.B. - A safety official in New Brunswick says two teens don't know how close they came to serious harm after trying a stunt that has hospitalized or killed three people in two other provinces.

NB Power has asked police to look into the incident, in which the boys climbed a 60-metre high transmission tower near Saint John and posted video of the heart-stopping ascent to social media.

Duff Boyd, the utility's director of health and safety, said Friday that while it's bad enough that the two boys climbed the tower without safety equipment, they did so in the vicinity of powerful electrical currents.

Boyd said electricity is an "insidious killer" that can jump the conductors on the tower and badly burn anyone in the vicinity.

"I can reference a case in Powell River, British Columbia, just last month," said Boyd. "Two individuals did exactly the same thing and one of them was engulfed in a ball of fire and spent three-and-a-half hours on the tower awaiting rescue."

A spokeswoman for the Saint John police issued a news release saying officers are investigating the New Brunswick incident.

"What if any charges, criminal or provincial, will be determined through the course of the investigation," said Sgt. Lori Magee in an email.

"This activity is extremely dangerous and not only puts the lives of those engaged in this activity at risk but also endangers the lives of the first responders called to a scene when something goes wrong."

A photo and video posted to Facebook and Instagram showed the boys climbing the tower, which has the potential to carry 69,000 to 345,000 volts, and balancing on rails and beams at the top.

In another incident this week, a 21-year-old Quebec man was killed and another was injured after climbing a hydro pole in Riviere-du-Loup, Que.

Pierre-Alexandre Dupuis of Saint-Georges-de-Beauce died while a 24-year-old Montreal man was injured.

Quebec provincial police say the two men were climbing to a platform between two posts about five metres above the ground. The survivor felt the electrical current and let go, dropping to the ground.

Dupuis did not and was electrocuted.

Boyd said while NB Power is concerned, he doesn't think a trend has begun in his province.

"Fortunately it's a very rare occurrence," he said. "We do have a dedicated public safety campaign . . . about the dangers of electricity and why it's so necessary to stay away and we believe that is having a good impact."

Boyd said a lawyer for the utility has been in contact with the Saint John police to see if anything can be done.

Meanwhile, he said he's encouraged that one of the teens, Noah Kingston, has since posted on Facebook that he won't do any more climbing.

His Facebook page says, "Well, I'm all done climbing," provoking a series of comments from his friends saying they're relieved and suggesting he try safer climbing locations.

Boyd said he hoped Kingston had realized the error of his ways.

"I would look to him to be an example to others, to say, 'Look, this is really dumb,'" he said.

The 18-year-old Kingston, who has gained notoriety for a series of death-defying stunts posted on social media, wasn't immediately available for comment.

In a May interview he said he wanted to continue climbing higher on buildings, bridges cranes and towers without permission and without safety equipment.

"It started out as an adrenalin rush ... and now I just get into it, climbing new heights exploring new views," he said at the time.

— Story by Keith Doucette in Halifax.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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