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Newhall suicide investigation continues

Coroner’s officials identify body, but still seek family of man who died in Newhall

Posted: July 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The L.A. County Coroner’s Department is investigating the death of a man who hanged himself atop an electrical utility pole in Newhall on Saturday.

An autopsy has been done on the man but an official cause of death will not be disclosed until the coroner contacts the man’s next of kin, said Coroner Investigator Dana Bee.

“We have identified him, but we’re still trying to reach his family,” Bee said on Sunday.

An investigator — not Bee — is expected to begin looking into the case Monday, he said.

Bee said that one of the questions he would expect to be asked in the investigation is why no one climbed the pole to grab the man.

A shirtless Hispanic man, who appeared to be in his mid-20s, stood perched atop a wooden utility pole for at least 40 minutes Saturday at around noon as people including those with an emergency response unit watched in horror on the ground.

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to the report of a man on a utility pole behind a strip mall on the west side of Newhall Avenue, behind a tropical fish store.

When deputies arrived, they found the man atop an old wooden utility pole — the type affixed with metal ladder-like foot grips that lead to the top.

Deputies spent 40 minutes trying to talk the man down from the pole.

Witnesses told The Signal the man placed what appeared to be a T-shirt around his neck, positioned himself below a crossbar at the top of the pole and let go.

The 50-foot pole was surrounded by at least three trees of equal height.

On Sunday, some branches were pressed against the pole. At least three other branches reaching towards the pole had been sawed off to stumps that appeared to be freshly cut.

The pole was at the top of a steep dusty embankment of dry grass, capable of being seen with unobstructed view from at least a dozen apartments across the apartment driveway, 40 yards away.

A ladder brought to the scene by firefighters from Newhall Fire Station No. 73 could not reach the top of the pole, a captain at the station said Sunday.

“It was out of reach,” the captain said.

The captain said the case was now a coroner’s investigation.



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