VIRGINIA

Dylan Shawn Cooper dies two weeks after June 29 derecho

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A Falls Church family is mourning the loss of their son, a 19-year-old man who passed away this past Sunday more than two weeks after he was injured in the June 29 derecho.

Derecho 2012: A look back at the deadly storm

Derecho 2012: A look back at the deadly storm 89 Photos
Derecho 2012: A look back at the deadly storm

Fairfax County Police say that Dylan Shawn Cooper is the 3rd derecho-related death in the county. He was found unconscious in the night of the storm near his home on Haycock Road in Falls Church near a set of downed power lines.

Officials say Cooper was accidentally electrocuted. The man who tried to save him, though, says that if he had been able to get through to emergency services more quickly, Dylan may have had a better chance to survive.

Dylan's family said that he had begun to turn his life around after struggling with addiction while attending McLean High School. He was on his way home from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when the storm hit.

"He was going to meetings (and) getting ready to move into a sober house," Danette Cox, Dylan's mother, said.

Nathan Portnoy was the man who first found Dylan lying in the middle of the street with his arm entangled in a power line. The combat lifesaving training he received during his time in the National Guard kicked in immediately.

Portnoy said that he faced a frightening reality - he could not help and see Cooper die, or he could help and risk being shocked himself if the lines were still active. He started CPR while other neighbors called 911, but they all struggled to get through to 911.

The county's 911 system was clogged on the night of the storm with a 415 percent increase in calls, officials say. Instead of the average 199 calls for help officials usually get, authorities got 824. It's unknown how many even got through.

"It's the first time I've ever had to do this, and I can't get the look of the kid's face out of my head," Portnoy said.

During the course of his efforts, Portnoy told a group of kids to break into nearby Haycock Elementary School go find a defibrillator, but the building was locked down. It took, by his estimation, nearly 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, but by then, he thinks it was too late.

"That defibrillator is key," he said.

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