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Three Dead In California Electrocution

SAN BERNARDINO, California - A mother, father and their son were electrocuted in their backyard in Southern California after one touched a downed power line and the other two attempted rescues, a Fire Department spokesman said.

Firefighters were called to the San Bernardino home early Friday by a 17-year-old girl who said her parents and brother had been electrocuted and were lying in the backyard, fire spokesman Jason Serrano said. Firefighters saw three bodies in contact with an arcing 12,000-volt electrical line in the backyard but it was too dangerous to free them, Serrano said.

A utility company finally cut the power and coroner's officials were called. Serrano said it was unclear why the line fell. However, strong winds were sweeping through parts of Southern California on Friday and the National Weather Service said some gusts could reach 50 mph (80 kph) in the area. The fallen line set small grass fires in the front and back yards, which were out by the time firefighters arrived, Serrano said.

The victims were identified as Steven Vego, 43; his wife, Sharon, 42, and their son, 21-year-old Jonathan Cole, according to Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. The father heard a "pop," went outside and was trying to douse the backyard fire when he touched the power line, which he may not have noticed, Serrano said. "The mother went out to assist him and she, too, became a victim," he added. Their 21-year-old was electrocuted when he tried to pull his parents free. "It's absolutely a tragic story.

Fortunately, the 17-year-old did not run out and do the same thing," Serrano said. Her 10-year-old brother was in the home and was not harmed, he said. The dead were lying in the grass in their bedclothes and the power line was about 10 feet (3 meters) from the rear of the home, fire Capt. Mike Bilheimer told the San Bernardino Sun. He said the parents apparently went out a sliding glass door from their bedroom into the yard. San Bernardino is about 65 miles (104 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles.

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