B.C. Hydro workers rescue Frankenstein

B.C. Hydro linemen Brian Gueldenstern, left, and Tim Somerville pluck a frightened and exhausted cat named Frankenstein from atop a utility pole on Milton Street Wednesday. - Chris Bush photo
B.C. Hydro linemen Brian Gueldenstern, left, and Tim Somerville pluck a frightened and exhausted cat named Frankenstein from atop a utility pole on Milton Street Wednesday.
— image credit: Chris Bush photo

A jolt of electricity meant life to Frankenstein’s monster, but it would have meant certain death for a terrified, exhausted cat named after the fictitious scientist that was stranded atop a utility pole in Nanaimo Wednesday.

Frankenstein’s saga started in front of his home at 408 Milton St. about 10 a.m. when he was chased up a utility pole by a big yellow dog, neighbours said.

If black cats bring bad luck, Frankenstein had plenty of the opposite cross his path throughout the day.

In his flight, he scrambled about six metres up the pole and found a perch on an insulator surrounded by wires feeding 120 volt power to a house.

Unfortunately Frankenstein couldn’t figure out how to get back down, so there he sat, centimetres away from power lines that could kill him with one touch, meowing for help, for the next six hours.

By late after noon Frankenstein was exhausted and getting desperate.

When attempts by neighbours and passersby to coax the frightened cat down failed, they tried calling police and Nanaimo Fire Rescue. But cat rescues from utility poles are not in the emergency services area of expertise.

Frankenstein’s having a bad year, said one neighbour. He got hit by a car this summer.

Frankenstein, 7, has lived at 408 Milton all his life.

His original owners took him with them when they moved, but he kept returning to the home he’d always known.

The home’s owner, Don LePan, finally agreed to keep him.

LePan arrived home from work to find a small gathering of neighbours plus two B.C. Hydro linemen in front of his home who responded to calls for help and was shocked to see his cat up the utility pole.

“You hang in there, Frankenstein,” LePan yelled up to his cat.

A bucket truck had been dispatched to the scene, but with all trucks and crews out repairing power lines damaged from a wind storm Tuesday, it took a while before a truck could respond.

Just as the truck was about to arrive on scene, Frankenstein figured he’d have a more room to perch on top of the pole and mustered his dwindling strength to shimmy the rest of the way up to crouch under a power line carrying 14,000 volts.

If Frankenstien lifted his head a few centimetres it meant instantly an explosion of current.

“Don’t look,” said Brian Gueldenstern, B.C. Hydro lineman, certain the cat was done for. “You don’t want to watch a cat die like this.”

Gueldenstern and his co-worker, Tim Somerville, rushed to cut power to the block, hoping to save the cat.

With the power down and the bucket truck on scene, it took Gueldenstern, Somerville and co-workers Shane Sandferd and Jason Yanda mere moments to set up the truck, pluck Frankenstein from the pole and reunite him with his owner just before 5 p.m.

“I can’t thank everyone enough,” LePan said to the linemen and neighbours after rushing his exhausted pet into his home.

“Thank you all so much for all your help.”

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