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Family of shocked children sues CenterPoint Energy

Erin Mulvane, Houston Chronicle
Updated 2:21 am, Tuesday, February 26, 2013
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A Spring family says a hanging electric wire should have been fixed by CenterPoint Energy weeks before their two children were shocked as they were playing in their backyard.

Christopher and Sarah Zarsky are suing the electric company after their 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son were burned by a wire in their backyard in the 3600 block of Nutwood Lane on Feb. 17, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.

CenterPoint spokeswoman Alicia Dixon said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit says a guy wire from a distribution pole in the Zarsky family's backyard came into contact with one of the energized power lines located nearby. The wire had previously parted from the anchor, leaving it swinging loose.

When the guy wire contacted the energized power lines, it shocked the children who were playing below, knocking them both unconscious and leaving them severely burned, the lawsuit says.

The little girl was on fire when her father ran outside and she had stopped breathing. Christopher Zarsky said in the suit that the fire spread to her head and he was able to stifle it and perform CPR to revive her.

He had previously notified CenterPoint about the loose wire in his back yard, according to the lawsuit.

The children remain in the intensive care unit at Shriner's Burn Unit in Galveston. Both remain in critical condition, with severe burn injuries that have already resulted in multiple skin grafting and surgeries, including amputation.

"They have a long road ahead of them," said Tony Buzbee, the parents' attorney.

The lawsuit asks for damages and says CenterPoint was negligent. A Harris County judge has granted a temporary restraining order to prevent CenterPoint from fixing the wire so they can collect evidence for their case. "We will hopefully find out as the case goes forward, how many homes have that exact same set-up," Buzbee said.