MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The family of a Miami teen who was electrocuted inside a FPL substation have filed a suit against the utility.
“We lived for him, we did everything for him”, the boy’s mom, Mercedes Meneses, said at a Friday news conference. “My life has changed a thousand times over.”
Jesus Meneses, 17, died October 27th while playing basketball at Flagami’s Kinloch Park with friends. During the game his ball bounced over a seven-foot high metal fence that is protected by barbed wire surrounding a FPL power grid at 455 NW 47th Avenue.
Meneses jumped the fence to get the ball and then jumped a second interior fence. It was inside this second fence where he touched a live electrical wire and was killed instantly.
Meneses was a popular student at Coral Gables Senior High. His parents said his death was a tragic accident that should never have occurred.
“I don’t have words to describe this,” said Jesus’s father, Romelio. “I’m empty. He was my everything, my dream.”
In the suit, Meneses attorney claims balls from the park would often fly over the fence and land in the substation and kids would jump over the fence, or crawl through a gap in the fence, to retrieve them.
“I was there,” said the family’s attorney, Carlos Silva. “I saw basketballs go over while I was there. What’s a 14, or 15, or 16 year-old kid going to do?”
The suit claims FPL was well aware of the situation yet took “no safety measures to improve or enhance the security of its substation perimeter, or to develop ways to deny access and safeguards the person whom the Defendant could reasonably anticipate would be present on its property on a daily basis.”
“They knew that kids go get their balls, and someone was going to get killed,” Silva said. “And that’s what happened.”
FPL declined to comment Friday, saying it does not discuss pending litigation. At the time of the boy’s death, however, the company issued a statement expressing sympathy for the Meneses family. The statement said the fence at the company’s Riverside substation exceeds national standards, and that people should avoid contact with such facilities “at all costs.”
Mercedes Meneses said her son’s death should cost FPL because the company needs to learn a lesson.
“I am devastated,” she said. “I don’t’ want any other mother to suffer what I have suffered.”
The family’s attorney said the city of Miami may be added to the lawsuit as a defendant after a required waiting period. The city, he said, should not have built the basketball court “12 feet from the power plant.”
Mayor Tomas Regalado told CBS4 News two days after Jesus Meneses’ death that he would direct that tall netting be installed to prevent errant balls from bouncing into the adjacent substation. Friday, however, Regalado said the netting project has been put on at least temporary hold because “the city attorney has been assured by FPL that the company will take measures to properly secure its facility.”