The family of a Texas boy who died while trying to stay warm inside their home after they lost power during a snowstorm a week ago is now suing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Entergy Corporation for $100 million, accusing them of gross negligence.
Maria Elisa Pineda, 34, a Honduran immigrant and mother of the deceased 11-year-old, Cristian Pavon Pineda, told the Houston Chronicle that her son died on Feb. 16, less than 24 hours after seeing snow for the first time.
“Everything was well. He was happy that day. He was not at all sick,” she told the Chronicle.
Pineda said she recorded video and took pictures of her son in a red hoodie playing outside their Conroe mobile home that lost power when the snowstorm hit on Feb. 15. The frolicking only lasted for about 30 minutes as his gloves had gotten wet.
By 11 p.m., Pineda said Cristian, who shared a bed with his 3-year-old stepbrother, went to bed under a pile of blankets in an attempt to stay warm, according to the lawsuit cited by ABC News.
He never woke up the following day, even though his stepbrother did.
“This is a young man who died for no reason other than corporate decisions," the Pineda family's attorney, Tony Buzbee, told ABC News. "There are a lot of decisions that were made a long time ago that led to the death of this young man. That is unacceptable."
Buzbee represents seven families of more than 30 people who died as of Sunday, reportedly due to the impact of the snowstorm in Texas.
"Cristian’s lawsuit is the first and his lawsuit should be the first," Buzbee said. "This kid is going to change Texas and God bless him for that.
While an official cause of death is pending for the 11-year-old, his family insists that he froze to death, the Conroe Police Department said.
In a statement to ABC13, Entergy said in reaction to the lawsuit that: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in our community. We are unable to comment due to pending litigation."
ERCOT, which manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers, representing about 90% of the state’s electric load, also responded in a statement defending their grid operators' decision to cut power during the storm.
"We haven't yet reviewed the lawsuits and will respond accordingly once we do. Our thoughts are with all Texans who have and are suffering due to this past week. However, because approximately 46% of privately-owned generation tripped offline this past Monday morning, we are confident that our grid operators made the right choice to avoid a statewide blackout,” their statement said.
More than $88,400 has been raised in a GoFundMe campaign to help transfer Cristian’s body back to Honduras to allow his extended family to see him before he is buried.
“We are trying to raise funds to be able to transfer the body to Honduras. His wish was to see his grandparents again and that is what the mother wants to fulfill,” the campaign’s organizer, Jaliza Year, wrote.
A memorial service is also expected to be held for Cristian at The Woodlands First Baptist Church. The pastor handling the arrangements was not immediately available for an interview when contacted by The Christian Post on Tuesday.