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Irrigation district expects ‘significant’ litigation after Dixon canal electrocution

Mom describes how her son was electrocuted in Dixon

Dixon mother Candy Carrillo describes on Tuesday how her 17-year-old son Jacob Hourmouzus died after being electrocuted after grabbing a pipe or gate while trying to rescue a friend near a canal on Monday, April 1, 2019.
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Dixon mother Candy Carrillo describes on Tuesday how her 17-year-old son Jacob Hourmouzus died after being electrocuted after grabbing a pipe or gate while trying to rescue a friend near a canal on Monday, April 1, 2019.

As authorities investigate Monday’s incident in which two 17-year-old boys were fatally electrocuted at a Dixon canal, the agency that owns and operates the canal and its equipment anticipates “significant exposure to litigation.”

The Solano Irrigation District board of directors held a special meeting Wednesday night to discuss the possibility of litigation.

“The unfortunate and tragic death of two young men in proximity of a District facility on Weyand Lateral gives rise to a condition in which there is significant exposure to litigation,” minutes for Wednesday’s meeting said. “The Board members will wish a report on what is known to date and will provide guidance in regard to actions to be taken by the District in response.”

The incident happened early Monday afternoon, when Dixon High School students Jacob Hourmouzus and Jacob Schneider died while trying to rescue a dog that had fallen or jumped into a 25-foot-wide canal from a metal bridge, authorities said based on witness reports.

When the boys tried to grab onto the bridge to pull themselves out of the water, they were fatally electrocuted, the Solano County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Tuesday. Both boys were transported to Kaiser Vacaville, where they were pronounced dead, authorities said.

The sheriff’s office and Solano County District Attorney’s office are currently investigating how the bridge came to be energized, according to a news release.

The canal and its equipment are operated by SID, including powering elements, spokeswoman Janet Zimmerman said on Thursday.

“We’re turning over all requested documentation to them and we’re awaiting the findings to know exactly what happens and how to proceed,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman estimated the sheriff’s office findings could come in about two weeks.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. crews arrived to de-energize the bridge, but a representative with PG&E said its equipment was not involved in the fatal incident.

SID has a five-member board in addition to the office’s general manager and district engineer. They met with attorneys for Wednesday’s meeting.

Hourmouzus’ mother, Candy Carrillo, spoke to reporters near the canal Monday, giving an emotional account based on her understanding of the event at the time. She said Jacob was riding four-wheelers with a group of friends near an orchard just before the tragic incident. The teens were on spring break.

Carrillo on Monday called it “neglect” if it is found that authorities did not take adequate measures to prevent the bridge from becoming energized.

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