The true devastation of Hurricane Harvey is coming to light as floodwaters start to recede in some areas of Texas, and one family is sharing its personal tragedy to warn others.
Andrew Pasek, 25, went to his sister Alyssa’s house in Houston in the middle of the storm to feed her cat she had left behind.
In an interview with KPRC, Alyssa called her brother an “animal lover” who never said a bad word about anyone, adding: “It was just a terrible mistake, [an] accident that shouldn’t have happened.”
According to WFAA, Alyssa had been evacuated from Bear Creek Village but didn’t think she would be gone long so she left her cat behind. When the rising water made it clear they would be stuck, Andrew and a friend, Sean Stuart, decided to wade through the water, despite Andrew’s broken ankle, to Alyssa’s house for her beloved pet.
Alyssa described the water as being about knee-deep, telling KPRC they walked through the neighbors’ yards where it was more shallow.
His mom, Jodell Pasek, told WFAA that as they were walking, her son felt a shock through his ankle. Sean said his friend stumbled and grabbed ahold of an electrical light pole and couldn’t pull away.GoFundMe
“Sean reached for him to try and pull him and Andrew said ‘No, I’m dying. And you will die too.’ And he just fell over in the water.”
“And he told me just to get away from him. Just get as far away from him as I could. And so I had to let him go.”
Andrew had been electrocuted. According to KPRC, the electricity in Alyssa’s neighborhood had never been shut off despite feet of water. As his sister said:
“It should have never been on, it should have been turned off.”
No one could get to Andrew because the water around him was electrified. Jodell recalled the horror of being unable to reach her son:
“They couldn’t get him out. Nobody could touch him. Nobody could resuscitate him. Nobody could help him and they had to leave him there in the water for over an hour until Centerpoint came and finally turned off the electricity to the subdivision.”
CenterPoint is an energy service provider in Houston.
Andrew’s family is now warning others not to wade through Harvey’s floodwaters due to the dangerous possibility there is electricity lurking beneath the surface.
In an interview with Fox 26, Jodell cautioned everyone in the storm’s aftermath to be aware of one’s surroundings and for people who want electricity in order to stay in their homes to remember that the decision could put someone else’s life at risk:
“Even if you think you’re staying and you need power it may cost someone else their life.”
After losing another son in a car accident in 1993, Jodell said the only way she is coping with Andrew’s death is by knowing his story could save more lives. She told KPRC:
“He cannot die in vain. I mean we really want to get this out to the public to be aware, to know about the dangers of the water and electricity.”
She later added:
“I’m pulling my strength from the fact I’ve been through it once and I can get through it.”
Electrified water isn’t the only threat that Harvey’s massive flooding has produced. There have been reports of alligators, floating fire ant colonies, and other wildlife such as snakes underneath the water.
KPRC reported that after the power was shut off, first responders were able to reach Andrew on Tuesday, and his body was taken to the medical examiner’s office.
According to a GoFundMe page set up in his honor, he is survived by his mother, Jodell, his father, Al, and two sisters, Misty and Alyssa.