Two budding Isaac Newtons, aged 11 and 14, conducted their own gravitational experiments from the top of a 115-foot crane on campus for more than an hour before firefighters brought the youngsters back down to earth.
At 4:52 p.m. police received a call from a worker at the construction site of the Engineering Sciences Building near UCSB’s East Gate, saying that two young boys had climbed to the top. The boys threw several items from the crane before firefighters brought them down the crane’s ladder at 5:35 p.m. At 1:30 p.m. the youths had been reported missing from Devereux Santa Barbara, a treatment facility for the developmentally disabled near UCSB’s West Campus.
A witness said that at 5:15 p.m., the boys had already been at the top of the crane for more than an hour.
“They were throwing buckets, a ladder, towels, anything they could find up there,” Carmen Perez, a housekeeping employee at San Miguel, said. “It’s so scary.”
Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. spokesman Joe Guzzardi said the boys reached the absolute top of the crane, including the portion that extends above the horizontal walkway.
“They were climbing all over the top of the thing like a couple of monkeys,” Guzzardi said. “They were up at the very top around cables and pulleys. It was a pretty dangerous activity.”
Guzzardi said Santa Barbara County Fire Truck 11 was originally dispatched to the scene with the idea of using the truck’s ladder to get the youths, before officials decided instead to send members of the Fire Dept.’s Urban Search and Rescue team up the crane’s crawlway. As the firemen reached the top of the crane, the youths retreated toward the end of the horizontal walkway. Firefighters could be heard yelling, “You’re not in trouble.”
“The kids were a little hostile when they first got up there,” Guzzardi said. “They were able to talk them into coming down by telling them they could ride in the truck and use the radio.”
The youths were returned to Devereux School and no one was harmed in the incident.
UCPD Officer Mark Signa said that construction workers on the scene reported that the site was secure and that the boys must have climbed a fence to reach the crane.
The incident at the crane was the climax of a big day of mischief for the youths. Earlier in the afternoon they were seen attempting to gain access to the stairwell in Storke Tower. The pair was then seen on a scooter and a bicycle going the wrong way on the bike path nearby.
Signa said that around 4 p.m. the boys entered a UCSB pumping station at Goleta Beach that houses a sewage outflow pump. They “flipped some switches” and managed to turn the pump off for a short time before a UCSB employee turned it back on, Signa said.
“There was some back flow, there is some clean-up, but it was all contained within the system,” Signa said. “There was nothing on the beach.”