VERMILION TOWNSHIP, Ohio (CBSNewYork/AP) — A 15-year-old Ohio boy was electrocuted apparently while attempting to conduct an experiment he saw on YouTube that involves a high-voltage traveling arc of electricity, authorities said Wednesday.
Morgan Wojciechowski’s parents found him Tuesday in the garage of their Vermilion Township home in northern Ohio, said Jared Oliver, chief deputy with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities weren’t sure whether the parents heard something or just went to check on their son, Oliver said.
Emergency crews called to the home took the boy to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Oliver said the high school freshman apparently was trying to conduct an experiment called Jacob’s Ladder involving a high-voltage traveling arc of electricity between two points.
Authorities found a battery pack from a microwave oven attached to an electrical outlet by extension cords, with jumper cables going from the battery pack to two pieces of a wire hanger. The hanger pieces apparently were intended to be used as the points for the electricity to travel along, Oliver said.
Jacob’s Ladder displays are sometimes found in science museums and centers. In demonstrations, an electric spark jumps between two parallel wires when electrons fed into one of the wires repel each other, heating up the surrounding air so the spark rises with the hot air before dying at the top of the wires.
“YouTube was the culprit. It needs to be stopped. We need to monitor what’s being put out to our kids,” the boy’s grandfather told Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO-TV. “There’s no going back. This can enlighten other parents too.”
Various websites discussing Jacob’s Ladder warn it can be dangerous and should not be done at home.
Oliver said the experiment wasn’t part of any school assignment.
“He was doing this on his own,” the deputy said.
The superintendent of the Vermilion Local School District, Philip Pempin, issued a statement Wednesday saying the boy’s was a “vibrant student and athlete who was well liked at Vermilion High School.”
Calls to the family’s home Wednesday were met with a busy signal.