T-bone crash results in $30,000 damage to electrical box, power outage

The driver of a gray Toyota Camry crashes into a transformer box during a collision on East Riverside Drive and South 2450 East Wednesday evening, St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Update Thursday 12:30 p.m. According to the report received by Marc Mortensen, assistant to the St. George City manager, crews replaced a pad mounted switch box to restore service to more than 500 customers that were affected. All services were restored by 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, and the costs associated with the crashremain unchanged. 

ST. GEORGE — A two-vehicle crash on East Riverside Drive Wednesday evening left both vehicles inoperable, heavily damaged a transformer box, and plunged many residents into the dark.

Emergency repair crews worked for hours under chilly conditions to restore power to customers.

White Rav4 in the middle of E. Riverside Drive after two-car collision that was caused when a woman ran a stop sign Wedesday evening in St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
A white Rav4 sits in the middle of East Riverside Drive after a collision with a vehicle driven by a woman who officers said ran a stop sign Wednesday evening in St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Just after 6:30 p.m. a call came into the St. George Communications Center reporting the collision near 2450 E. Riverside Drive that also damaged a transformer box.

Upon arrival officers and firefighters found a white 2008 Toyota RAV4 in the middle of East Riverside Drive and a gray 1998 Toyota Camry in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel parking lot, located at 2434 E. Riverside Drive, Officer Lona Trombley, St. George Police public information officer said.

The two occupants in the Rav4 were checked for injuries, along with the woman driving the Camry, and no serious injuries were reported, Trombley said.

Officers found a severely damaged transformer box lying on its side about three feet from its base after being knocked over from the force of the collision. Twisted metal and wiring from the unit was scattered on the ground.

Work crews arrive to repair damaged transformer after two-car collision that was caused when a woman ran a stop sign Wedesday evening in St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Work crews arrive to repair a damaged transformer after a two-vehicle collision caused by a woman who officers said ran a stop sign Wednesday evening in St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

One witness at the scene ran out of his house after hearing the crash, which he said sounded like a metal trash can being dragged across concrete. Just as he reached the corner the man said he observed kids playing near the transformer box that was now damaged.

The man said he quickly warned the children to move away and a few seconds later a large arc flash exploded from the box, sending a shower of sparks into the air.

Information obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines an arc flash as a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to ground, and the results are often violent, particularly when a person is in close proximity to the flash. Serious injury and even death can occur.

Several homes and buildings, including the LDS chapel, were without power immediately after the crash, particularly in the area southwest of South Riverside Drive and South 2450 East.

A St. George Energy Services work crew was immediately dispatched to the scene to assess the damage and to begin repairs on the transformer box where live lines were left exposed.

Marc Mortensen, assistant to the St. George City manager, said replacement boxes are kept in stock at the St. George Utilities yard. Depending on the extent of the damage, crews could replace the box and all lines going into it. If the incident damaged a main hub, or a central transformer, then the repair operation could be more extensive.

A transformer box is severely damaged when it is struck during a two-vehicle collision that officers said was caused when a woman ran a stop sign Wednesday evening in St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Cody Pitcher, St. George News
A transformer box is severely damaged when it is struck during a two-vehicle collision that officers said was caused when a woman ran a stop sign Wednesday evening in St. George, Utah, Dec. 7, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Cody Pitcher, St. George News

“It’s really too hard to say at this point,” Mortensen said. “We will know more when the repairs are complete and the detailed work report is submitted showing what was repaired or replaced, and the work involved.”

After speaking with both drivers and witnesses, officers determined that the 23-year-old woman driving the Camry failed to stop at a stop sign. She was heading south on South 2450 East and as she approached a stop sign at East Riverside Drive she drove into oncoming traffic.

The man driving the Rav4 was heading west on East Riverside Drive just as the Camry came into his lane of travel. He was unable to avoid the crash and T-boned the Camry on the drivers side. The impact sent both cars spinning.

The Camry spun around once and then continued in a southwest direction before it jumped the curb, missed the light pole, crashed into the transformer box, and landed in the parking lot of the chapel several yards from the point of impact.

“The Rav4 hit the Camry at 35 miles per hour, but fortunately all occupants were wearing their seat belts when the crash occurred,” Trombley said.

Information submitted to Trombley shortly after the crash estimated damages to the transformer box, lines and repair costs to be around $30,000.

Repairs and replacement costs can be high with this type of damage, Mortensen said, particularly since the box was uprooted from its foundation and lines were damaged and exposed.

“Sometimes everything in the box must be replaced, so once we are able to assess the total costs involved, including the time spent and replacement or repair costs, then we can determine how those costs will be recovered,” he said.

Both vehicles were extensively damaged and towed from the scene. The woman driving the Camry was cited for failing to stop at a stop sign.

Work crews estimated it would take several hours at least for power to be restored.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or first responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

2 Comments

  • .... December 8, 2016 at 12:39 am

    This is absolutely a situation that could of been so much worse than it was. pay attention to the road signs and keep them cell phones tucked away while driving.

    we are in the mid of the holiday season and the hustles and bustle goes on. enjoy the holidays and the festivities but people need to really be careful out there and let’s all be home to celebrate the joyous celebrations with the family

  • mmsandie December 8, 2016 at 8:58 am

    People have to slow down drive more defensively, especially at night , dinner time, shopping traffic.. Glad I live on the other side of time

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.