ELLIJAY, Ga. - A family is in mourning after a Gilmer County teen was electrocuted by a downed power line even though she was 25 feet away from the cable.
Stephanie Diaz, 19, of Ellijay died Wednesday when she was electrocuted as she walked out of a home where she was babysitting.
"She's just the sweetest girl ever," said Diaz's cousin, Antonio Leon. "She was one of my favorite cousins. She would give her heart out to anybody."
Police said a storm blew through the area late Wednesday afternoon and knocked down a power line outside the Victory Circle home where Diaz was watching a 5-year-old child. When she stepped outside to investigate the outage, police think she either stepped in a puddle of standing water or onto very wet ground. The current from the downed line was powerful enough to reach Diaz 25 feet away.
Ellijay police Sgt. Alan Henson was the first officer on the scene. He saw Diaz down, but couldn't reach her because of the arcing electricity. The current was so strong, it scorched the ground and melted bits of cable into the ground.
"There was no way to get across without taking the risk of being electrocuted, too," said Henson. "The power lines were on fire lying in the road, arcing off the grass. I could not make entry to where the female was laying."
Other first responders arrived but also had to wait until Georgia Power could get on the scene and cut off the electricity. Henson admits he's haunted by the incident.
"Very hard," Henson said. "Had a rough day yesterday. Yesterday was a really rough day, but I talked with my friends, just a few other first responders, talking about the situation. It kind of helps you get through it, but it's still rough knowing that there's a person there you want to help, but you can't. You just can't get to them."
Diaz's family said three carloads of relatives drove down from Chicago to support their loved ones.
"Right now, it's pretty tough," said Leon.
"But we all know she's in a better place. She's watching down on us, and we're just praying for her right now.