2 teens, grandmother hurt in freak incident involving art project, microwave parts in Utica

Incident happened on Fourth of July outside apartment building

UTICA, Mich. – Two teenagers and a grandmother were rushed to nearby hospitals after a freak incident in Utica involving a woodworking art project and microwave parts.

Utica police said the incident happened on the Fourth of July outside an apartment building near 21 Mile Road and Van Dyke Avenue.

Utica police Chief Sean Coady said an 18-year-old man has extensive electrical burns to his lungs and is in a medically induced coma. His injuries are the most severe, officials said.

The art project involved something called “wood fracking.” As shown in a YouTube video with nearly 3 million views, it makes interesting patterns using jolts of electricity in the wood.

In the Utica case, a father, his son and the son’s girlfriend were using a transformer taken out of a microwave. When the power was flowing, the 18-year-old son was on his hands and knees, police said. He lost his balance and fell onto the live wires.

The electricity ran through him and through his girlfriend when he fell onto her. His grandmother also ran over to help and was shocked, officials said.

“Once something took place, there was panic,” Coady said. “It caused even more confusion and chaos as they tried to assist each other.”

The girlfriend and grandmother were both hospitalized, but they’re expected to be OK.

Police are now warning everyone about wood fracking.

“Although the artwork is interesting, the risks don’t outweigh the result,” Coady said. “(People) don’t know what they’re dealing with when they’re taking apart these components.”

Due to how many people were injured, multiple fire departments were called for help, including those from Utica, Shelby Township and Sterling Heights.

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