$14M settlement reached in boys’ Dixon canal electrocution suit

The families of two teenage boys who were electrocuted when they touched an energized bridge in Dixon while saving a dog from an irrigation canal in April have settled a lawsuit with the Solano Irrigation District for $14 million.

The families of Jacob Schneider, of Dixon, and Jacob Hourmouzus, of Elk Grove, will receive $7 million each, Schneider's attorney Robert Buccola said Monday.

"Although there is no 'silver lining' with such horrific losses, the Schneiders take some measure of satisfaction knowing that a similar tragedy will not befall other innocent users of the property," Buccola said in a written statement.

"It is hoped that this amount of money will get the attention of the Solano Irrigation District such that it will endure their promises to correct similar deficiencies in their systems are actually completed to prevent a future occurrence of this nature from ever happening again," Hourmouzus' attorney Daniel Wilcoxen said in a written statement.

The teens' families filed a suit in Solano County Superior Court against the Solano Irrigation District in June alleging gross negligence and dangerous conditions on public property.

The suit claimed district workers improperly bypassed a circuit breaker that prevented electrical grounding and allowed the bridge to become electrified.

Schneider and Hourmouzus were with two other teens who were walking on the 25-foot long metal bridge over the canal owned by the district on April 1, according to the Solano County Sheriff's Office.

The families of two teenage boys who were electrocuted when they touched an energized bridge have reached a settlement.

When a dog with the teens fell or jumped off the bridge into the canal, Hourmouzus and Schneider jumped into the canal to save it. The boys grabbed the dog and reached up to the metal bridge to keep from being pulled down the canal, sheriff's officials said.

Witnesses said the boys were unable to release their grip on the bridge until a third boy jumped into the canal and knocked both boys away from the bridge. The boy pulled the two teens and the dog out of the canal and onto a levee, and a teen girl also with the group called 911, according to the sheriff's office.

"This terrible tragedy has devastated our community, the employees and management of the District and all of us who know the families of Jacob Schneider and Jacob Hourmouzus. The grief, heartache and anguish of the management and employees of our District cannot be adequately underscored," the Solano Irrigation District said in a written statement. 

"Details regarding the cause of the break in the electrical conduit that resulted in this tragic event has not been fully determined, including whether vandalism played a role. Going forward, the District is committed to ensuring that an accident like this is never repeated," the district said. 

The district also said it immediately began inspecting 300 power stations across its service area after the boys' deaths to eliminate the possibility of unknown hazards, and is pursuing a long-term modernization program of all of its electrical facilities.

The families of two teenage boys who were electrocuted when they touched an energized bridge have reached a settlement.