Rep. Paddie files utility safety bill in wake of Lake O’ the Pines tragedy

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In the wake of tragedy, there is now hope. 

District 9 State Representative Chris Paddie of Marshall filed legislation Friday in Austin relating to safety and inspection requirements for certain utility companies.

In August of 2017, three local Boy Scouts were sailing on Lake O’ the Pines when their boat’s mast came in contact with a 12,000 volt powerline operated by Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative. 

All three boys – Heath Faucheux, Will Brannon and Thomas Larry – were killed. 

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t say, ‘Why did this happen? Why?'” said Heath’s mother, Michelle Faucheux.

For the first time since their sons’ deaths, Will’s parents and Heath’s mother spoke on camera, exclusively with KETK.

They say they are very thankful for Representative Paddie’s support to file this legislation. 

“We’re very pleased that somebody still cares and that hopefully change will be made,” said Michelle Brannon. 

Will’s father, Stan Brannon, said he’s “overjoyed, but cautiously optimistic” acknowledging the potential bitter battle ahead.

He says it’ll be worth it, “The biggest thing we can do for our boys is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Currently, electric utilities in Texas are not required to establish regular maintenance programs or carry out routine inspections of power lines and poles.

In addition, the Public Utility Commission does not require utility companies or cooperatives to provide reports on accidents involving power lines. 

Both of these issues, as well as several other requirements are addressed in Representative Paddie’s legislation.

“This bill is designed to draw the public attention and the utilities attention back to where it should be,  and that’s on public safety,” explained Michelle Brannon.

The bill now has to pass through committee before it can be introduced on the House floor. 

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