Investigations under way into power line that electrocuted Cleveland girl

May have been mistaken for 'phone line'

CLEVELAND - Cleveland police and fire officials are launching separate investigations into whether a live power line may have been mistaken for a phone line and left hanging for days before a 12-year-old girl was electrocuted.

Gasia Thomas remains in critical condition after coming in contact with a live electric wire that was hanging from a utility pole in the wake of the storm. A 5 On Your Side investigation confirmed that the live electric wire at East 130th Street and Iroquois Avenue that seriously injured Thomas may have been out in the open for as long as 27 hours.

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath ordered a review of the incident after discovering two separate calls involving downed wires within the same vicinity.

Cleveland police said the communication control section was called for a downed line between East 129th and East 130th , and Iroquois Avenue at about 8 a.m . Thursday. FirstEnergy was notified and a police officer was sent to the scene, police said. The officer left after reporting the wire appeared to be an AT&T phone line.

Cleveland police said they later received the call at 3 p.m. the same day that reported a child had come in contact with a live power line. The police department is investigating if the two calls are connected.

In addition, Cleveland's fire chief said a review of of calls from the area did not show a call concerning a down power line.

Even so, a Cleveland woman who lives in the neighborhood said she reported the down power line to fire officials on Monday, October 29, 2012--a full four days before the child was electrocuted.

Meanwhile, remnants of superstorm Sandy are tricking thousands of Cleveland children, who are being warned to stay off the streets for fear that other power lines may be exposed.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson issued a news advisory urging Cleveland families with children under 12 to stay off the streets Saturday evening and instead attend the "Big City Boo" celebrations held at city recreation centers from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. out of  "an abundance of caution."

The mayor said he is also holding FirstEnergy "accountable for hundreds of potentially hazardous down wires."

A FirstEnergy spokesperson said initial reports indicated the down wire was reported 27 hours before the accident, but it is still investigating the time frame.

FirstEnergy does report that 6,000 power lines were down throughout the company's coverage area as a result of the storm, sending repair crews scrambling from Avon to the Pennsylvania border.

In the first 24 hours alone, some 4,000 power lines were reported down.

First Energy said it is now trying to confirm exactly when it was notified and who reported the down line, as well as whether Cleveland police or fire were asked to secure the area.

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