Widespread power outage hits Washington City after crash snaps pole

White passenger car crashes into power pole on 100 East, causing power outage for more than four hours, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 5, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Cody Nelson, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — An injured driver was transported to the hospital after his vehicle slammed into a power pole, causing a widespread power outage that affected traffic lights in multiple intersections and left customers without services for more than four hours Sunday afternoon.

Top of power pole dangles in the air after white passenger car crashes into the pole on 100 East, causing power outage for more than four hours, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 5, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Cody Nelson, St. George News

Shortly after 4 p.m. emergency responders were dispatched to a single-vehicle crash at 840 S. 100 E. in Washington City involving a white passenger vehicle that crashed into a power pole.

Emergency personnel found the 59-year-old driver inside the vehicle, injured but in stable condition, Washington City Police spokesman Ed Kantor said.

The driver told officers that he was heading north on 100 East when he began coughing uncontrollably due to a medical issue. The man lost control of the car as it veered off of the roadway and slammed into the power pole, Kantor said.

The impact snapped the pole in half. The bottom section crashed down onto the vehicle while the top became tangled in the power lines and was left dangling in the air.

The driver was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George by ambulance for evaluation and treatment.

Officers cordoned off 100 East in both directions to secure a wide area while a brush truck from the Washington City Fire Department blocked access to where the electrical line was left exposed.

Washington City Power repair crews respond to crash scene where power pole snapped in half, leaving live line on the ground on 100 East, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 5, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Additional officers were called to the area to direct traffic in multiple intersections throughout the city when power was cut to the traffic lights.

Emergency repair crews and technicians from the Washington City Power Department responded to the crash scene and began repairs on the damaged power pole and exposed lines.

Additional crews responded to various intersections and restored power to the traffic lights using emergency generators, Rick Hansen with Washington City Power Department said.

Hansen went on to say that the line that was cut caused an outage that affected all Washington City Power customers. The damage had to be isolated and repaired by sections, and power was restored by sections as well.

“The power wasn’t restored all at once, because we had to transfer over to an alternate feed and each of the six substations came up one at a time,” Hansen said.

The street where the crash occurred remained closed until 5:30 a.m. Monday, when crews completed repairs to the pole and line that took more than 13 hours to finish, he said.

Washington City Fire Department brush truck blocks road where live power line is on the ground on 100 East, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 5, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Several bystanders requested access to 100 East after the street was cordoned off, and officers explained the danger as individuals were given alternate routes.

There are many dangers that can be present anytime a power line is damaged or destroyed, Julio Reyes, Washington City Firefighter and department spokesperson said, and many times the area will be taped off to reduce the risk of injury to bystanders.

“The public should avoid the area for several reasons, but the first is that when a power line is compromised, it is not always obvious whether or not the line is hot, and often times the dangers are hidden,” Washington City firefighter Julio Reyes said.

Additional traffic in the area from onlookers or vehicles can also cause congestion, Reyes said, and make it difficult for emergency personnel and utility crews to access the scene and make repairs.

“That congestion can potentially cause another crash or present other safety hazards for the public, repair crews and responders as well,” he said.

Prepare for an unexpected power outage by having extra flashlights and other battery-powered lighting on hand, and if possible a small generator and extension cords. A generator can run small space heaters and other essential equipment or medical devices in case of an outage.

“Always make sure to run generators outside in a well ventilated area,” Reyes said, “and never operate them indoors.”

Having extra oxygen cylinders available for those on home oxygen is important as well, Reyes added, but if an individual runs low or needs any assistance she can call the Fire Department at 435-673-4788. The department’s personnel will respond to an individual’s home to help change the cylinder if needed or can provide oxygen if the person runs out.

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Caveat_Emptor November 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

    It was hard to believe that one power pole could cause such a widespread outage.
    These vulnerabilities are usually associated with a sub-station. Washington City should be taking a closer look at their transmission network, to identify where they might make some modest investments to reduce likelihood of widespread outages.

  • utahdiablo November 7, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Yes, One power pole shouldn’t bear the weight of the entire electrical system / grid here in Washington City, get this updated to never happen again…..and make the driver and his insurance pay for this damage.

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