Boy, 6, swings on live powerline

Michelle Byers and sons Ashtyn, 6, and Kaleb, 3.
Michelle Byers and sons Ashtyn, 6, and Kaleb, 3.

“DOES your mother know you are up there?” were the seven words that sent shivers down the spine of Cooroy mother-of-two Michelle Byers yesterday.

Then came the familiar sound of tiny footsteps on the roof.

But this time, six-year-old Ashtyn was not alone.

Kaleb, 3, had joined his older brother’s adventures.

Builders next door then witnessed the unimaginable as Ashtyn reached up an arm’s length and began swinging on the 240 volt electric powerline connected to the Byers’ home.

Single mother Michelle said she raced outside to see both sons just standing on her roof.

“I could still see the powerline swaying back and forth,” the 29-year-old said.

Her daredevil sons had climbed the balustrade at the back of the house on to its roof about 11am. Ashtyn then climbed down the roof and jumped the short distance over to the garage, which comes directly under the power line.

“Yes, he has a habit of climbing up on to the roof and it doesn’t matter how many times I tell him,” the exasperated mother said.

So this time, after some telephone advice from her own mother, a resolute Michelle called in some professional help.

Cooroy police Senior Constable Marty Bond said by the time he arrived, both boys were off the roof and had been spoken to by their mother.

Snr Const Bond said the worried woman asked him politely to help her sons see some sense.

“I spoke to them of the dangers of power lines. It wasn’t one of our more usual police call-outs,” he said.

“To little Kaleb I don’t think he understood and it was all very exciting getting to see a police officer, but Ashtyn knew the seriousness of the situation. I don’t think he will do it again.”

Energex reacted in initial disbelief at the story yesterday, but later added general household power lines were suspected to be strong enough to carry the weight of a child.

Spokesman Graham Metcalf said electrocution or electric shock could have occurred if there was damage to the line or if the line had broken while the children were swinging on it, bringing them into contact with the ground.

“They were awfully lucky,” he said. “This voltage can kill and the majority of incidents come from 240 volts because they are what people come in most contact with.”

Mum Michelle hopes Ashtyn’s brush with the law will stop his wilful ways. “He just refuses to listen to me, so this time mum and I thought he might listen to police,” she said.

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