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Nester Lerma Jr. of Freer, Texas worked in the oilfields for much of his life. As a derrick worker climbing to the top of a drilling rig derrick was just part of the job. He was trained in the safety procedures and practiced caution. But on May 1, 2015, this wasn’t enough to save him from falling victim to a horrific accident. At 38 years old, Nester fell to his death that day – or at least that is what most people believed to have happened.

But Nester’s parents, Geri VanPelt and Nester Lerma Sr. weren’t so sure that their son’s death was the result of a fall. They hired investigators and even reached out to a local lawyer for help. Their son left behind six children and for the sake of his family, they wanted to know the truth.

Their quest for justice got off to a rocky start. Many of the eyewitnesses weren’t really sure how Nester fell. The company he worked for believed it was an unfortunate accident and that perhaps his safety harness wasn’t properly fastened. And the first lawyer they worked with didn’t believe that there was any foul play involved. He said there wasn’t much he could do to help them.

The family was in shock – children heartbroken by the loss of their father. All they could do was wait for the autopsy to come back. It took almost 2 ½ months, but finally Geri and Nester received the coroner’s report. To their surprise, they learned that their son died from electrocution, not the fall.

Around this time Shelly Cantu was visiting her hometown of Freer. Shelly works with personal injury attorney Jason DeSouza. Geri told Shelly about Nester’s death and her questions surrounding it. Shelly suggested sharing the information with Jason, who then took on the case to help Nester’s family during this difficult time.

“Jason did a very good job,” said Geri. “He made sure that Nester’s children were taken care of and we are so grateful for his help.”

She said that Jason worked hard to discover every detail they needed to present their case. The investigation took 8 months, but he didn’t leave a stone unturned. Even the Texas Rangers got involved.

The company that Nester worked for cooperated with the investigation. It turned out that there was nothing wrong with the safety equipment they provided their workers. However, they discovered that there were live wires on the property that the landowner had not made them aware of. And it was these wires that electrocuted Nester.

At first the landowner refused to admit fault and the case was headed for trial. But during the process he met Nester’s children and had a change of heart. Jason negotiated with the landowner and got the family a large confidential settlement.

Nester’s parents set up trust funds for each of their six grandchildren and they even used some of the money to establish a college scholarship for children who have lost a parent in an oilfield accident. Geri was excited to give this scholarship to a well-deserving young man in Freer this past year. And she is very grateful for Jason and his determination to get her family the money they needed to move on.

“If it weren’t for Jason, it would have been case closed,” she said. “They would have ruled it an accident and my grandchildren would have been left without a dad. But thanks to Jason, they all have college savings funds.”

DeSouza Law Firm is a leading personal injury firm representing accident victims throughout Texas.

If you’ve been injured by a car, truck, 18-wheeler, company vehicle, or in the oilfield, call DeSouza Injury Lawyers today at 361-799-2222 or visit the firm online at

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