Alex Lopez and his brother, Isaiah, grew up at Oakland Lake Park, going there with family before they could walk.
“They played there almost daily,” said Angela Jenkins, their former stepmother.
That’s what they were doing Wednesday, exploring a wooded area with neighborhood friends when Alex, 12, stepped into a puddle near downed power lines. The shock electrocuted him.
Trying to save Alex, Isaiah, 11, grabbed him and was electrocuted too.
“Alex was usually the protector,” said Jenkins, who was speaking for the family Thursday. “And this time it was Isaiah.”
The accident remained under investigation Thursday.
Richard Zavala, Fort Worth’s parks and recreation director, said the park near Oakland Boulevard and Interstate 30 was a “high-priority” area for checking for downed power lines after severe storms early Wednesday.
But city workers didn’t come across the power lines that killed the Lopez brothers because they were in a “very remote,” low-traffic area, Zavala said.
“It was in the utility easement beyond the parkland and beyond the developed area of the parkland,” Zavala said.
Firefighters were called about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday to the park, where a witness had reported that two children had been electrocuted.
When MedStar and Fire Department personnel arrived, the power lines were still energized and arcing. A grass fire had also been ignited by the lines.
Firefighters could see the two boys, said Lt. Kyle Falkner, Fire Department spokesman. But the danger of the lines limited their access for about an hour until Oncor arrived and cut power.
“Given the nature of the injuries received and the hazard still at the scene,” Falkner said, “the crews had to make the difficult decision at that point that they had to prevent any further injury and not allow anyone into the area until those lines could be de-energized.”
The boys were pronounced dead at 8:13 p.m., according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.
“We can’t say it enough: People have to be aware of their surroundings and know that when we have high winds and storms, power lines down are danger,” Falkner said.
In a statement, Oncor said: “Our thoughts and heartfelt prayers go out to the family. We urge all our customers to treat every power line as if it’s energized.”
The Lopez brothers lived with their grandmother near the park, Jenkins said, and attended the International Leadership of Texas charter school in North Richland Hills.
Guidance counselors were being made available to students and staff, a statement from the school said. Parents set up a GoFundMe page for the boys’ funeral expenses Friday.
The boys were a grade apart — Alex in fifth and Isaiah in fourth — but inseparable outside school, full of energy and sometimes mischievous, Jenkins said.
“They were your stereotypical boys,” she said. “They caused problems sometimes, but they had really good hearts.”
Jenkins said other children who were with the boys recounted to the family what happened Wednesday night.
When his brother was electrocuted, Isaiah turned to the others.
“Go get help,” he urged. “I’m going to save Alex.”