The tragic news of three Boy Scouts electrocuted on an East Texas lake is hitting home for a North Texas man.
Not only did his own brother die on the same lake more than 30 years ago, he too was electrocuted when his boat’s mast came into contact with a live wire.
For Tom Irwin, time has done little to heal his broken heart.
“Twins they say is half a person,” he said tearing up. “So, he was the other half.”
Losing his twin brother was made all the more difficult because of how it happened.
The then 35-year-old attorney was on a sailboat in Lake O’ The Pines near Avinger, Texas.
“He was motoring into the cove,” said Irwin. “When you hit bottom you put your motor in reverse and that’s what he did and was electrocuted 26 times.”
Irwin’s boat mast had come into contact with a power line.
Memories of that horrific day came flooding back last weekend.
“Last Saturday I got a call from my sister-in-law, Jerry’s wife, saying it happened again,” he said.
A sailboat with Boy Scouts was in the lake less than a mile from where Irwin’s brother was killed.
A preliminary investigation found their boat hit an overhead transmission line, electrocuting them.
“Now you’re talking about teenagers, Boy Scouts, innocent kids,” said Irwin.
He now questions Upshur Rural Electric Cooperation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and monitors the lake.
“How can you let this happen again,” he said.
Irwin says the wires were raised in the area where his brother was killed.
“Why they did not extend the height across the waterway all the way around I don’t know,” he added.
“Nobody should be at risk to get in a boat and get on the waterways and have to worry about whether someone’s done their homework,” said Irwin.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is leading the investigation into the death of the Boy Scouts.
However, spokesperson for the department told NBC 5 “we do not have the specifics of the wire height.”
The department referred NBC 5 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for information about utilities on their property.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Worth released a statement to NBC 5:
"First and foremost, regarding the tragic loss of three lives this past weekend, we want the families of these young men to know our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with them.
We consider any loss of life one too many and continue to place public safety above all else as priority one.
Reference the proper minimum required height for the power line over the lake, the required heights and other related specifics are a part of the ongoing investigation.
After the 1982 incident the Army Corps went through a stringent process to evaluate the appropriate height of the power line. These two incidents were not identical and occurred at different locations on the lake."
Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative did not return calls for information or a statement about the height of power lines at the lake.