Friday, August 23, 2013

TOP STORY >> FBI offering $20K reward

Leader staff writer

The FBI is offering a reward up to $20,000 for information leading to an arrest for the intentional downing of high-voltage wires and damage to an electrical transmission tower in the Holland Bottoms area of Cabot on Wednesday.

According to Sally Graham with Entergy Arkansas, an electrical line from one of the towers fell at 4:30 a.m. across Hwy. 321 and the railroad tracks near the overpass. Entergy notified the police department, railroad and the school district about the problem.

No power outages were reported, and the area was secured. The highway and the railroad were closed, but both were reopened by Wednesday night. Electricity to the lines was rerouted around the damaged section.

Graham said an inspection of the line by Entergy crews indicated someone with a hacksaw climbed up the 100-foot tower. They cut a steel shackle that helps hold one set of power lines to the tower arm, causing the wires to drop.

The electrical line, which runs from Holland Bottoms to Keo, carries 500 kilovolts. Safety measures are in place that immediately de-energize the electrical line when a cable falls.

“Bringing down a high-voltage power line wouldn’t be difficult for someone who knows how,” said a utility contractor in New York who works on electrical lines.

“With the right gloves and a special suit, the energy goes around you. But without the right equipment and the knowledge, you’re dead, ‘fried internally’,” he said.

According to an FBI re-lease, an investigation indicated someone also attached a cable to the frame of the electrical tower and placed the cable across the railroad tracks in an attempt to use a moving train to bring down the tower.

A train snagged the cable and caused the upper portion of the electrical tower to kink. The snag didn’t cause any injuries.

The steel bolts from three of the tower’s support legs were also removed.

It is unknown if more than one person was involved in the incident.

The FBI believes someone may have seen a person or a vehicle in the area early Wednesday morning, or heard the loud noise of someone removing the bolts from the base of the tower.

FBI investigators think the person responsible is familiar with the Holland Bottoms area. They may also have above-average knowledge or skill working with electricity.

Entergy officials do not suspect that the incident was related to copper theft because no copper was involved. High-voltage wires are aluminum.

Entergy crews will have to replace the metal structure, but the company doesn’t know yet when the work will be completed.

The FBI is working with the Cabot Police Department, the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, Entergy Arkansas and Union Pacific Railroad on investigating the incident.

The FBI is asking for anyone with any information that may be related to the incident to contact the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office at 501-221-9100 or

FBI investigators ask that anyone who may have photographs or video of the area share their information with the agency.