The Sad Case Of The Electric Dopehead In Houma

We saw this one earlier today and just had to sigh…

A Houma man was killed early this morning by an electrical shock at an Entergy substation while cutting a ground wire in an attempt to steal copper wiring, Terrebonne sheriff’s deputies said.

The charred body of 34-year-old Timothy Lewis, 144 Vivian St., was found about 2 a.m. by Entergy employees responding to the resulting power outage, police said. Lewis, armed with wire cutters, cut through a fence surrounding the substation, 1701 Coteau Road, and was killed when he cut the ground line, deputies said.

It seems Mr. Lewis had a long rap sheet and a known problem with illicit substances.

There’s a little more context in the article…

The substation serves about 1,500 customers, Entergy Regional Customer Service Manager Henry Gernhauser said.

About 500 customers in Bayou Blue, near the Lafourche Parish line, were still without power about 9 a.m., Gernhauser said, and all should be back online today.

Authorities have handled four reports of copper thefts from local substations in the past few months, though not this one, Terrebonne sheriff’s Capt. Dawn Foret said. It was not immediately clear if those thefts had been solved.

The theft of copper and other metals is an increasing problem nationwide, a trend that experts blame on the shaky economy and an increased demand caused by mining strikes.

Our readers probably won’t be shocked by this, but I spent an undistinguished and even more unsatisfying two years at LSU Law School. I learned a lot while there; most importantly that I didn’t want to be a lawyer. People ask me all the time why I didn’t ever go back and finish, and my answer usually references something that relates to this pitiful story from Houma.

Which is this – on the first day of Frank Maraist’s torts class my first year of law school, he spent the first 10 minutes of the hour spinning a story almost identical to this one. In Maraist’s formulation, the singed perpetrator was a drunk who wandered into a power substation and electrocuted himself, causing a neighborhood power outage which resulted in all kinds of havoc – a kid in an iron lung who went into a coma because the electricity went out, an old man who fell down the stairs in the dark, and so on.

And then in the next 50 minutes Maraist opened up the floor to a bunch of us first-year law students, who proceeded to pepper him with legal theories about all the potential defendants in the big-money lawsuits that would follow. Some of them were pretty creative. Virtually all of them involved the power company, since they were the deepest pocket within firing range.

I was 23 at the time, and I remember feeling really old at hearing all this. I also remember raising my hand and questioning why we were even talking about this stuff since the guy responsible for the problem was a drunk who offed himself in the process of shorting out the neighborhood; end of story.

Maraist’s response? “You ain’t gonna be much of a lawyer.”

He was right, and I’m not upset about it. Never really have been. I wanted out of law school the day Maraist told me that, and the feeling only got stronger the longer I was there. Another miserable year to finish? What for? A piece of paper I didn’t want the second day I was there? Forget it.

So when I saw this story, it brought me back to that miserable couple of years. Wonder how many lawsuits will fly as a result of Lewis’ idiotic – and fatal – escapade Tuesday night.

That cynicism aside, the real cost of what he did is summed up nicely by the Houma Courier piece on the situation…

Lewis’ mother, Susan Robichaux-Lewis, said she heard about her son’s death a few hours after it happened. She said her son left behind many people who loved him, including his three daughters, but his actions were motivated by addiction.

“I can’t sugarcoat a situation like this,” Robichaux-Lewis said, “but he was a character in his own way.”

Robichaux-Lewis said “the drugs had him” but that he had many great qualities as a father and son.

“He was good as gold in a lot of ways, though it was a battle with him,” Robichaux-Lewis said. “But it doesn’t make it any better.”

Just gotta shake your head. Terrible, terrible story – whether it ultimately makes a mortgage payment for some of Maraist’s more successful students or not.



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