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Westmoreland

Cops: Two men suffered severe burns in attempted copper theft at Trafford power station

Paul Peirce
| Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, 4:57 p.m.

Two men who showed up at a Monroeville hospital emergency room in June with severe burns got the injuries while trying — and failing — to steal copper from a Trafford power substation, Westmoreland County Detectives said Friday.

Dylan E. Madden, 25, of Turtle Creek and Jay A. Ziegler, 32, of Wall are charged with criminal trespass, risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief, possession of instruments of crime, defiant trespass, reckless endangerment, possession of instruments of crime and theft of metals after the June 4 incident that knocked out power in the Trafford area for several hours, according to court documents.

East McKeesport police were summoned about 4:50 a.m. to AHN Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville to investigate two patients, Madden and Ziegler, who showed up for treatment of “severe electrical burns to their bodies.”

The case was turned over to Westmoreland County authorities after learning from a witness that the incident occurred in Trafford.

Westmoreland County Detective Nicholas Caesar reported in interviews at the burn unit at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, where the men were transferred, that Ziegler admitted that he and Madden entered the substation in Trafford Commerce Park to steal copper wire. During the theft about 3 a.m., according to court documents, Ziegler told Caesar he cut into a live 23,000-volt Duquesne Light power line and caused an explosion.

The force “blew him out of his shoes,” Caesar reported. “Zeigler stated that he was on fire due to the explosion and had to roll around in the rocks to extinguish the fire.”

Ziegler told Caesar that Madden also suffered burns and both men abandoned their tools to seek medical treatment.

The men called a woman acquaintance to drive them to the hospital, according to court documents.

Caesar said the explosion in the utility substation caused a power outage and resulted in 12 area businesses being unable to conduct business. The damage to area businesses was estimated at more than $13,000, and more than $2,500 in damage occurred to the utility facility, Caesar said in court documents.

Caesar reported that detectives later confiscated a bolt cutter, hacksaw, tin snips and crescent wrench from the facility that was posted for “No Trespassing” and warned people of its potential danger.

The men have not yet been arraigned, and a preliminary hearing date has not been scheduled.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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