DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The body of a man who died after allegedly trying to collect copper wire was found near a utility pole by the Catlin Clubhouse, mauka of Nimitz Highway and H-1 near Catlin Drive. Police believe the man actually fell from a different pole about 300 yards away, inside a construction area in naval housing. CLICK FOR LARGE
Copper thief fell to death, police say
A man who died in a fall from a 40-foot tall utility pole Tuesday was trying to collect copper wire, police said.
The Honolulu medical examiner said the man, Taily Corpuz, 54, of Waipahu, died from "multiple blunt force injuries due to fall from height due to a high-voltage electrocution."
A woman who went to the Honolulu Airport Hotel to report the incident told the desk clerk the man climbed the pole to get some copper, said Lt. Sherman Chan, of the Honolulu Police Department. Police believe the woman was with Corpuz when he fell, Chan said. She left before police arrived.
Police also believe Corpuz fell from a different pole from the one where his body was found, on the lawn near the Boys & Girls Club of Navy Hawaii. They believe he fell from a pole about 300 yards away, inside a construction area in naval housing where police found coils of stripped copper wire.
"We think he was either dragged or carried. There is a separation in the fence line near where he was found," said Maj. Kurt Kendro, HPD District 5 commander.
Kendro believes whoever moved Corpuz's body might have been trying to get help for him. Police are asking whoever was with Corpuz Tuesday night to step forward.
Police believe Corpuz was cutting wires between a transformer and some transmission lines at the top of the utility pole when he probably lost his balance and grabbed a live wire.
Pearl Harbor officials said the utility lines are charged with 11,500 volts.
"We've been telling people for months and months now something like this is going to happen," said Peter Rosegg, Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman.
On June 3, 2005, a man was nearly electrocuted while climbing on a transformer at a HECO substation on School Street in Liliha. The man, who was not a HECO employee, was taken to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition. The incident also cut power to nearly 850 HECO customers.
Rosegg said there was no copper in the substation.
Kendro said the Navy contractor put up fences and hired security guards to patrol the construction site to prevent people from stealing copper wire and hurting themselves. But it is not enough, he said.
"That's why we're urging the Legislature to put out tough laws," Kendro said. "We need a deterrent."