02 DTS NightVision "Sled"; Waiting For The Coup
Attempted energy theft kills father
He uses jumper cables to tap a power line
September 5, 2007
BY AMBER HUNT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Cathandra Miller wanted to tell her husband to keep fighting, to keep breathing, to stay alive.
She begged to get in the ambulance as medics rushed him to the hospital. She asked to stand by his side as doctors tried to revive him.
But Leonard Adkins was already dead, electrocuted Monday while trying to steal electricity by using jumper cables to tap into a utility line and direct power to his soon-to-be rental home.The unemployed couple had planned to move in a rush Labor Day weekend after being evicted from their home on Cecil Street in Detroit because they couldn't pay the rent.
"I finally got to see him when he was gone," Miller said Tuesday, sobbing on the front porch of her home, where a mattress lay in the middle of the living room and clothes were strewn across the floor.
Miller, 27, said she knows what her 37-year-old husband was doing was illegal. He was the family's sole provider, but she said he lost a job as a tow truck driver, leaving them without the money to pay rent.
Scott Simons, a Detroit Edison spokesman, said the utility is investigating the electrocution. The company loses millions of dollars each year in energy theft, he said, either by people illegally hooking up their homes or tampering with their meters.
"Not only is it extremely dangerous for the person doing it, but it's dangerous for neighbors as well," said Simons, adding that tapping into utility lines can spark fires.
Detroit police spokesman James Tate said it isn't the first time an electricity thief used jumper cables to divert power to a home, and the act has killed before.
Adkins died about 6:50 p.m. Monday. His uncle found him on the ground near a ladder, Miller said. He had burns on the right side of his chest and right forearm and was dead when he reached Detroit Receiving Hospital, authorities said.
Miller knew he planned to steal power, she said, but she thought a friend who had stolen power before would help.
Miller doesn't work because she stays home to care for the couple's three children: 15-month-old Leonard Jr., 8-year-old Tandra and 1-month-old Harvey. Adkins also has two teenage children from a previous relationship, but they did not live with the couple.
Adkins worked odd jobs, including at a steel company that went out of business, Miller said. "He wanted to be a truck driver," she said. "Now that's never going to happen."
She sobbed again.
With help from the state's Family Independence Agency, the family planned to move about three miles to Springwells. She said they didn't call DTE because they couldn't have gotten power connected on a holiday weekend.
Her husband wasn't perfect, Miller said. He served time in prison for a 1998 attempted robbery conviction. And he was killed doing something that was dangerous and illegal. That doesn't make his death any easier on his family, she said.
"He was trying to get the house fixed up before we moved," she said. "He just wanted to be with his family."