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One Year Later: Teen shocked by downed power line is permanently disabled

11:04 PM, Oct 29, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- It's been one year since Superstorm Sandy hit Northeast Ohio, with wind gusts over 70 mph. Tens of thousands of people were without power, as the strong winds snapped wires throughout the area.

Following the storm, 12-year old Gasia Thomas was walking with a friend near East 130th and Iroquois, when she came into contact with a downed power line.

The electric shock from that live wire stopped her heart.

"Hard to believe it's been a year," said Gasia's aunt, Joanna Thompson. "Time flies. But I'm happy that she's still with us," she said.

For Thompson, it's also hard to believe that the little girl so full of life, will never be the same. Gasia's beaming smile in photos belies the fact that the shock left her with permanent brain damage. She is now confined to a wheelchair.

"But she's talking, and she knows who everybody is," said Thompson. "She's doing great considering what she's been through."

A year later, the family's lawsuit against First Energy Corp., the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, or CEI, is still winding through the courts. The family says the live wire had been reported down, as many as 3 days before the accident.

The family is also suing the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Police officer who was sent to check out reports of a downed power line, but mistook it for a telephone line, hours before Gasia was injured.

Cleveland Public Power was originally named in the lawsuit, but was dismissed from the case earlier this month, after proving that the downed power line was not a CPP line.

No trial date has been set yet.

Thompson says the accident has left everyone in the neighborhood more aware of the dangers of downed power lines.

One horrifying moment one year ago, means many more years of struggles for Gasia, who's now 13 years old.

Yet despite the tragedy, Thompson says there is hope.

"Hopefully with her age, she will continue to get better each day, so, thank the Lord she's still living."


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