The families of two 17-year-old boys who were electrocuted earlier this year while trying to save a dog from a canal have received a $14-million settlement from the water district, according to the agency that owns the canal.
Jacob Schneider and Jacob Hourmouzus died April 1 after they jumped into the Weyland Canal in Dixon, Calif., to save a dog they were walking with friends after it either jumped or fell into the ditch. The waterway is owned by the Solano Irrigation District.
As the boys were trying to climb out of the water after rescuing the dog, they grabbed a metal railing on a bridge to pull themselves up and were electrocuted, according to reporting by the Sacramento Bee.
“This terrible tragedy has devastated our community, the employees and management of the district and all of us who know the families of Jacob Schneider and Jacob Hourmouzus,” Solano Irrigation District officials said in a statement. “The grief, heartache and anguish of the management and employees of our District cannot be adequately underscored.”
Officials with the Solano Irrigation District say they haven’t determined what caused a “break in the electrical conduit” that led the bridge to become energized. But according to a complaint filed against the water agency, “employees re-routed the electrical supply to bypass this overcurrent breaker protection and used a modified fuse system, but again, did so without properly grounding the system and to include the conduit, resulting in a free flowing current.”
Each family received $7 million from the water district, according to the agency. Daniel Wilcoxen and Robert Buccola, who represented the Schneider and Hourmouzus families, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
“In my 35 years as a practicing lawyer, I have not seen defendants any more legitimately apologetic, shocked and concerned about the losses suffered by these two families,” Buccola told the Bee. “This, along with their pledged commitment to take every effort to avert the occurrence of a similar future tragedy was and is greatly appreciated by the Schneider family.”
Solano Irrigation District officials said that immediately after the boys’ death in April, they began inspecting 300 power stations across the service area to identify potential hazards. The agency also said it is “pursuing a long-term modernization program” for its facilities.
“The district appreciates the involvement and requests made by the Schneider and Hourmouzus families to implement programs designed to ensure that the tragic events that resulted in their catastrophic and heartbreaking loss will never occur again,” the water board said.