‘I’m not going to take any chances’: North Shore electrician’s plea for help

North Shore Electrician Steve Zabara, who has spent the past year battling to save his life, says he’s ready to die if he has to.

Zabara was working on the electrician level at the North Shore Utility Cooperative in El Cerrito when he suffered a heart attack and then died of dehydration and exhaustion.

He was 42.

ZaBara, whose family has been struggling to pay the bills, is one of the lucky ones.

The other unlucky ones are his girlfriend, his daughter and his son.

Zacarra Bowers is one such lucky one.

The 35-year-old electrician is one half of a new family of nine children and a mother of three.

Bowers, who works at the El Cerritos High School gym, was scheduled to leave work Saturday but canceled.

He told Eyewitness News he got a call from the North Side Utilities Cooperative to help him out.

“They said, ‘We’re here, you need to go to the hospital and get tested.’

And I said, no, I need to do it myself,” Bowers said.”

And they said, you know, we don’t have the money, we’re going to get you something.

And I was like, no no no, we have nothing, I’m not taking any chances, I can’t do this.”

Bowers was scheduled for surgery on Monday but the emergency room in El Cajon, Calif., told him the hospital could not treat him there because of a lack of money.

Bower said he called his girlfriend and told her, ‘I need help right now.’

“She was like I’m in a position where I can do it, I don’t want to do this anymore, I’ll just go to jail, or maybe I’ll die,” he said.

Boys at the school gym were upset to hear the news.

“I think they should have been able to get that money,” said one boy.

“The other guy was like he just got an email that the hospital wasn’t able to treat him, he needed help right away,” said another boy.

North Shore Utilities Cooperative President Jim Czerniak said he was heartbroken to hear about Zabarras death.

“It’s really sad,” CzERNIAK said.

“It’s a very tragic situation and I hope that this will serve as a wake-up call for the utility cooperatives across the country to work together and get this right.”

Bower’s case is one that utility cooperators are facing because of the federal Clean Water Act, which is intended to protect the public from toxic chemicals.

The Clean Water Protection Act is meant to prevent chemicals from entering waterways and the electrical industry has been sued in federal court over similar cases.

The American Water Works Association has been pushing to change the Clean Water rules, saying they are not effective enough and are too complex.

“We have been trying to make sure that all of our companies are operating within the law,” said Alisha Schulte, the association’s president and CEO.

She said the American Waterworks Association is working with the North Siders and others in the electric utility industry to fix this problem.

“All of our cooperatives have made a commitment to adhere to the law and they’ve been very clear that if they don’t, they are going to have to pay a penalty of $75,000 a day, a penalty that’s very steep,” Schultes said.