Killed for Copper

GREENE COUNTY, AR -- It's a theft only worth a few bucks but one that comes with a big risk. Police say it's not all that uncommon as the price of copper rises. Monday, just west of Walcott in Greene County, it cost a man his life.

44 year old Kenneth Gladish of Greene County, also known as 'Poncho', was putting a lot of work into getting a few dollars worth of copper. Climbing up electric poles to steal copper ground wiring, Gladish was performing a dangerous task, one that would ultimately end his life.

"A neighbor had noticed his lights flickering around 1:30 and he came up here to investigate and he seen a truck car door open and he saw a gentleman laying next to the truck on the driver's side and a power line was across his body," says Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston.

According to police, Gladish was apparently tying the copper wire to the hitch on this truck to pull it down from the pole. He was successful a few times, as police found pounds of copper in the back of this truck. But this time would be his last. The copper line snapped and caused the live electric wire to fall and hit his truck.

"It went up into the power line and over 7000 volts of electricity and one of the power lines dropped down and hit the corner of the truck. He stepped out of the truck and was immediately electrocuted," says Sheriff Langston.

Arriving at the scene, bystanders and police quickly realized he was killed instantly. But the scene wasn't the easiest to clean up.

"We had to wait to make sure everything was shut down. Once it was shut down, we had the ambulance service. We declared the person dead at the scene with the coroner and then we contacted Craighead Electric, "says Sheriff Langston.

Electric crews worked all afternoon fixing the broken wires and poles to restore electricity to the area. The fire department was even called to put out a grass fire that started from the bolts of electricity.

"We have fires all the time and it's simply greed over this little piece of wire right here which i think up to now 3 dollars a pound. I'm holding less than 10 dollars worth of copper right here and it cost a gentleman his life," adds Sheriff Langston.

Electric crews were able to restore power late Monday afternoon.