A teenager badly injured when he was shocked by a fallen power line near a state beach in late June has filed a lawsuit against the utility company that operates the wires.
Jacob Kirkendall, a 17-year-old Aptos High student with strong family ties in Los Gatos, names Pacific Gas & Electric Co., as well as the county of Santa Cruz and State Parks, as defendants in the suit.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 21 in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages for medical costs, future lost earnings and other damages. It’s being brought through his father, Tom Kirkendall, because the injured teen is a minor, according to his attorney, Jeff Rickard of San Jose.
The suit was filed after claims Kirkendall made against all three defendants late last year were rejected.
The night of June 28, Kirkendall was shocked by a high-voltage, high-amperage overhead electrical distribution power line near the Shore Trail, next to the parking area for Rio del Mar State Beach, according to the lawsuit.
Kirkendall and friends were at the beach when a tree branch snapped and fell onto the power line. The downed wire sparked a small grass fire, which Kirkendall tried to put out. Kirkendall, somehow came into contact with the wires and was shocked, according to the lawsuit.
Aptos/La Selva firefighter Greg Hansen, who later won an award for heroism, dragged the teen away from danger, but not before Kirkendall suffered life-threatening injuries.
The lawsuit raises questions about why a safety mechanism didn’t de-energize the power line when it hit the ground, why the Shore Trail didn’t have safety measure such as lighting and why the hillside where the power line fell isn’t fenced off.
Kirkendall was hospitalized for months with burns to his head, upper back, one arm, hands, legs and feet suffered the night of June 28 near Rio del Mar State Beach. He spent two months in a coma and, more than once, his family worried he may not make it.
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