Whittier Electrocution: Southern California Edison Power Lines Kill Again

On November 12, a Whittier man, Joel Ramirez, was fatally electrocuted after contacting a downed, live power line that fell into his backyard. His mother was also injured when she attempted to come to his aid.

The facts are eerily similar to a case our firm is handling involving the Vego family that tragically lost three members of their family after a power line fell into their San Bernardino backyard in the early hours of January 14, 2011.

Our investigation into the San Bernardino tragedy has revealed serious issues with the safety of Southern California Edison power lines. Please remember the following important safety tips:

  • If you see a downed power line, ASSUME it is energized and stay away. Call 911 immediately. While you will have to fight your instincts, never come within 20 feet of any person or object in contact with a downed power line.
  • Metal acts as a conductor! If you must assist someone, only use wooden sticks or poles. Using a metal object, such as a metal pool cleaning net, will send the current from the downed person to you.
  • If you should be in a vehicle that is in contact with an overhead power line, DON’T LEAVE THE VEHICLE. As long as you stay inside and avoid touching metal on the vehicle, you may avoid an electrical hazard. If you need to get out to summon help or because of fire, jump out without touching any wires or the machine, keep your feet together, and hop to safety.
  • Never work in the vicinity of overhead lines unless you are trained or authorized to do so. If low overhead lines are close to your trees or property, contact your local power company about the hazard.
  • Look Up, Look Out, Locate before you start to trim trees near power lines at home. Wooden or fiberglass ladders will not act as conductors, but metal and aluminum ladders do!
  • Satellite receiver antennas should not be mounted on power poles.
  • Be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Losing a loved one is a devastating and traumatic experience. While the public depends on our power companies to keep us safe from faulty lines (a duty they often fail to perform, such as this recent catastrophe), we can help our community by teaching our friends and family about the danger of approaching power lines.

Ashleigh E. Aitken, Esq.