Brother of 1982 Lake O' the Pines electrocution victim speaks ou - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Brother of 1982 Lake O' the Pines electrocution victim speaks out

Thomas Irwin holds the Longview Daily News newspaper from when his brother died. (Source: KLTV) Thomas Irwin holds the Longview Daily News newspaper from when his brother died. (Source: KLTV)
Thomas Irwin spoke to KLTV by phone on Monday. He met us in Dallas Tuesday. (Source: KLTV) Thomas Irwin spoke to KLTV by phone on Monday. He met us in Dallas Tuesday. (Source: KLTV)
Gerald Irwin grew up in Longview. He and his brother Thomas were born in Dallas. (Source: Thomas Irwin) Gerald Irwin grew up in Longview. He and his brother Thomas were born in Dallas. (Source: Thomas Irwin)
This photo was taken of the twins when they were six months old. (Source: Thomas Irwin) This photo was taken of the twins when they were six months old. (Source: Thomas Irwin)
Thomas Irwin looks at holds childhood photos of him and his brother in a Dallas park on Tuesday. (Source: KLTV) Thomas Irwin looks at holds childhood photos of him and his brother in a Dallas park on Tuesday. (Source: KLTV)
DALLAS, TX (KLTV) -

In 1982, an East Texas attorney was electrocuted on Lake O' the Pines.

Gerald Brockett Irwin was sailing in the open waters of the Johnson Creek inlet when his sailboat's mast came in contact with a power line. He died when he reached for the boat's motor. Three other passengers lived.

Now, the 1982 incident is being talked about again. Nearly 36 years after it happened, three Boy Scouts died under similar circumstance on the same lake. The scouts were sailing in a different inlet, but their mast came in contact with power lines, just like Irwin's did.

Gerald Irwin's twin brother Thomas says he learned about his brother's death the night it happened.

"I received the phone call around ten the night he died," Thomas Irwin said. "Now anytime the phone rings around that time I'm always reminded of the incident."

KLTV spoke with Thomas Irwin Monday by phone and met him near his home in DFW on Tuesday. He says he was with his sister in Dallas on the night his brother died, just a few days before they were to all meet for Christmas.

"I thought it was a joke at first, to get us out to Longview a day earlier," Thomas said. "But when we got to his home and saw all the cars outside we knew."

Thomas says his brother went by Jerry. The two were born in Dallas and moved to Longview when they were young. They grew up there, then attended the University of Texas.

"Jerry got his law degree there too," Thomas said. "Then he decided to go back to Longview."

Irwin says the resulting lawsuit over his brother's electrocution was settled out of court without a jury trial.

"His wife filed suit against the corps of engineers and the electric company," Irwin said.

He says the lawsuit ended with a cash settlement and the power lines being raised in the Johnson Creek inlet. Today, the lines are well above the water, near a fishing dock.

Irwin says the memory of his brother's electrocution was brought back with the Saturday incident that has now killed three East Texas Boy Scouts.

"I wish I had been more diligent," Irwin said. "I wish I had asked if there were other places on Lake O' the Pines that have low hanging electrical lines. But I didn't do that. We just kind of went away."

It's something he says he now regrets. But after the scouts' deaths, he says the proper channels should survey all boating lakes for low power lines.

"The death of these three boys is unnecessary," he said. "No power line should be low enough to come in contact with a mast."

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