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Probe of electrical line that killed family in backyard could take months [Updated]

January 18, 2011 |  8:13 am

Electrical

Investigators from Southern California Edison returned Monday to the San Bernardino home where three people were electrocuted last week by a fallen power line.

But officials said it could be months before a full determination of what happened is finalized.

Steven Vego, 44, Sharon Vego, 43, and her 21-year-old son, Jonathan Cole, died Friday morning after they came into contact with the electric current coming from a 12,000-volt line that had fallen into their backyard during a windstorm. Family members told the Los Angeles Times that Steven Vego came into contact with the line first, and that his wife and stepson were shocked when they rushed to his aid.

Edison spokesman Steven Conroy said Monday that there was no new information to report on the incident, and that the company’s investigation could span weeks or months. He said that the investigators were trying to determine exactly what caused the line to fall.

“Obviously, the investigation will be thorough and comprehensive,” he said. “We will look at everything from the equipment on the pole to inspection records to weather conditions.”

Conroy said that the California Public Utilities Commission also was involved in the investigation.

Relatives said Friday that a line had fallen in the Vegos’ backyard about three years ago and questioned whether it had been properly repaired.

Edison officials refused to comment on the accusations.

The company announced Friday that it would begin collecting donations for the family. The Vegos’ two youngest children were not injured and were in the care of friends.

In a news release, Edison also emphasized its safety message on downed power lines.

“If you see a power line on the ground, stay away,” the release said. “Do not touch it or try to remove it. Call [Edison] or local law enforcement.”

[Corrected, 9:58 a.m.: A previous version of this post misspelled the family's last name as Vega.]

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--Sam Allen

Photo: Residents gather outside a home in San Bernardino, where three people were found dead by electrocution in their backyard. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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