Girl injured by power line may lose leg

Posted June 04, 2010, at 3:29 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:55 a.m.

STACYVILLE, Maine — An 11-year-old Stacyville girl who was severely injured on Wednesday evening when a storm brought a power line down on her leg may have to have the leg amputated, the girl’s great-grandmother said Friday.

Betty Campbell said that her great-granddaughter Allison Botting has had four surgeries so far on the injured left leg to cut out dead muscle and tissue. She is in Shriners Hospital in Boston, Mass.

“They’re going to hold off on amputation for now, but they are going to remove her big toe, which was badly damaged,” Campbell said late Friday afternoon. “It’s pretty hard. This is like a nightmare.”

Campbell said even if the leg is not amputated, Botting will never walk correctly again.

Botting, her sister Ashley Paradis, 18, and their mother’s boyfriend, Terry Holland, were injured early Wednesday evening during a severe thunderstorm that swept through north central Penobscot and south central Aroostook counties.

The injuries occurred at their home in Stacyville, a small town in Penobscot County.

Emergency responders were called to the home at 913 Station Road after fielding a report at about 6 p.m. Wednesday that the thunderstorm had knocked down a tree on power lines and sparked a fire.

The trio apparently had gone outside to look at the tree, which caught fire after it hit the line. As they were watching, the tree fell to the ground, bringing the power lines down with it.

The power lines fell on top of Botting and Paradis, striking the backs of their legs. Both girls suffered burns to the backs of their legs, but Botting was the most severely injured. She suffered second- and third-degree burns to her legs and was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. She later was transferred to Shriners Hospital.

Paradis was taken to Houlton Regional Hospital for treatment and was released a short time later. Campbell said that Paradis has blisters on her legs and feet.

Holland, who is the boyfriend of Nicole Botting, mother of the girls, suffered arm and shoulder injuries when he tried to move the power line off Botting. A jolt of electricity threw Holland several feet after he touched the line.

Holland said Friday that he was still heavily medicated because of his injuries and could not recall much about the accident. He said he dislocated his shoulder and broke an arm during the incident. He said he stayed in Stacyville, but that Nicole and Ashley had both traveled to Boston to be with Allison.

Campbell, who lives near her granddaughter and great grandchildren, said Friday that she had just been talking to the girls before the accident.

“The next thing I knew, I looked out the window and saw all three of them unconscious on the ground,” she said Friday. “I thought Allison was dead.”

Campbell said that her great granddaughter’s big toe was severely injured in the accident.

“There is pretty much nothing left of it,” she said. “She is going to have to go through surgery every day to clean out dead muscle and tissue. Her leg is cut from her ankle to her hip.”

Campbell said her granddaughter Nicole was pretty upset and concentrating on Allison right now and did not want to talk to the media.

She said Friday that her granddaughter and her family have had a rough time in the past few years. The family has been through two house fires and lost everything they owned in the last fire two years ago.

“At the same time, we are going through this and Ashley is set to graduate from Katahdin High School next week,” she said. “They are all so far away.”

Nicole Botting works at the Patten Nursing Home and has been given two weeks off from work to be with her daughter, according to Campbell.

“But that is not going to be enough,” she said. “They could be out there two or three months.”

Scott Hallowell, chief executive officer of Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative, which maintains the power line that fell on the girls, said the family was fortunate no one was killed.

“I can’t explain why they were not electrocuted,” he said. “There are all kinds of variables, including the weather, the condition of the ground and where the line was when it was touched. The whole thing could happen again with a different outcome, and we are so thankful that the family was not hurt worse. We really feel for this family and we are praying for them and thinking of them.”

Hallowell said people always should avoid fallen power lines.

“Stay away from them and contact the power company and the police,” he said. “Don’t touch the line and get away from it. Power goes to the ground, and you can’t see when electricity is there and when it is not.”

Donations are being accepted to help the family. While medical care at Shriners Hospital is free, the family still faces expenses while they are in Boston and medical costs for treatment in Houlton and Bangor.

Anyone interested in donating to the fund can make checks payable to Nicole Botting. Donations can be mailed to the Stacyville town office, P.O. Box 116, Stacyville 04777. Note that the donation is for the Botting family in the memo line.

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