Electrocution Lawsuit Filed Over Woman’s Death From Fallen Power Lines

The family of a Pennsylvania woman electrocuted by a downed power line has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Allegheny Energy.

The electrocution lawsuit was filed on Monday over the death of Carrie Goretzka on June 2, 2009. Goretzka, a 39-year-old mother of two, died after a power line fell on her in her backyard in Irwin, Pennsylvania.

Fire department and witness reports say Goretzka was fatally injured shortly after a power outage in her home. Seeing sparks from a pole that supported a power line, Goretzka went to the garage to get her cell phone. The 7, 200-volt line disconnected from the pole and fell on her.

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Her mother-in-law attempted to rescue her, but was shocked in the attempt. Firefighters reported that Goretzka screamed for help while they could do nothing to help her until Allegheny Power cut the electricity flowing through the line.

Goretzka’s two-year old and four-year old children witnessed the incident, according to the lawsuit.

Goretzka suffered severe burns, covering 85% of her body and her left arm had to be amputated. She died three days later in the UPMC Mercy burn unit in Pittsburgh.

The power line lawsuit alleges that Allegheny should have known the power line was unsafe after the same line fell five years ago in the summer of 2004. There was no inclement weather to account for the line falling, the lawsuit says.

Some safety tips for living and working around power lines include:

  • Assume all lines are energized.
  • Never touch any utility wire, and do not touch anyone in contact with an electricity line.
  • If there is a fallen or visibly damaged power line near your home, stay inside unless told by emergency personnel to evacuate. Call 9-1-1.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead lines when carrying or using ladders and other long tools.
  • Do not let children climb trees or fly kites near overhead power lines.


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