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Power Line that Hurt Child Was Reported

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CLEVELAND — A 12-year-old Cleveland girl is in critical condition after she touched a downed power line while playing outside.

Dr. Anthony DeRoss with Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital said the girl, Gasia Thomas, is critically injured, and they are taking things minute by minute.

DeRoss said Thomas’ heart stopped beating for several minutes when she grabbed the live power line, and had to be resuscitated.

“She has severe burn injures to certain portions of her body, but electrical burns, the burn that you see on the surface of the skin, is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the damage that it does to the system and the body. It causes severe shock injury throughout the body, to the cardiac system, as well as to the muscle and tissues in the body, are all injured from electrical burns of this magnitude,” DeRoss said.

The doctor said Thomas’ mother allowed him to speak about the little girl in hopes it will make people aware of how deadly the power lines are, and prevent another tragedy.

Thomas was near her home on E. 130th Street and Iroquois Avenue about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday when she saw the low-hanging wire and grabbed it, DeRoss said.

Thomas’ neighbor, Nicole Hart, said the wire came down in the high winds Monday night and started a fire on the power pole.

Hart said she called 911 and reported it but no one ever came out to look at it.

“The whole pole is on fire, so I was scared for my house and I didn’t know if it was going to swing this way or anything like that. So, I was just kind of upset that no one had come out to check on that,” Hart said.

Hart believes that if someone had come out to inspect the pole they would have found the hanging live wire.

Cleveland’s Chief of Communications, Maureen Harper, told Fox 8 News that they received a call about 8 a.m. Thursday about a suspicious wire in the same area and police were dispatched to check it out.

Harper said the officer reported back that it as a telephone wire, and not an electrical wire. It is unclear if this is the same wire Thomas touched.

Several torn and hanging wires can be seen in the area.

FirstEnergy released a statement that said:

“We are currently investigating the tragic incident.  I understand the person was transported to Rainbow Babies hospital. I don’t have any further information about the incident.  It’s very important to remind everyone to stay well away from downed power lines, and not assume that they are de-energized.  At the same time, any instance of a downed wire should be reported by calling 1-888-LIGHTSS or a local police or fire department to ensure the hazard is known and appropriate actions can be taken to preserve safety.”

Downed power lines were just one of the many hazards littered across northeast Ohio after Superstorm Sandy brought powerful wind and rain upon the region.

As FirstEnergy explained in its statement, it’s important to remember that one should never touch or attempt to move a power line.

If one falls on your car, remain in your vehicle and alert others to stay away.

Call authorities or ask a passerby to make the call.

Do not get out of the vehicle unless there is a fire hazard.  In that case, jump from the car with both feet together.