Car wreck knocks out power to 1,000-plus Monday night

BUCKHANNON — A car colliding with a pole on West Main Street Monday night knocked out power to just over 1,000 people initially.

The wreck happened about 8:45 p.m. as a juvenile driver was traveling east on West Main Street in a Toyota Corolla and left the roadway, striking a utility pole between the new Upshur County Literacy Volunteers location and CVS, according to Cpl. Marshall O’Connor with the Buckhannon Police Department.

The juvenile reported no injuries but was taken by Upshur County EMS to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital to be checked out.

O’Connor said the juvenile was coming from a friend’s house heading home and told the officer she may have zoned out but did not think she was going too fast.

“There were no skid marks so obviously  there was no breaking before the pole,” he said. 

O’Connor said the wreck was still under investigation.

There were no other passengers in the vehicle.

The Buckhannon Fire Department, Upshur County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia Department of Highways all assisted at the scene. Traffic was blocked from that area of West Main Street until the pole and lines were replaced. 

The pole was broken in two and caused power outages to St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Upshur County E-911 Center – both of which had generator power as a back-up, as well as to West Virginia Wesleyan College, several businesses and many residences around town.

Lisa Wharton, vice president of marketing, public relations and foundation for St. Joseph’s Hospital said, “St. Joseph’s Hospital lost power due to the outage and operated on generator power for a short time. Our generators kicked on immediately. The power was out between three and four hours.”

O’Connor said Monday night that the hospital was diverting ambulances to SJMH in Lewis County while St. Joe’s were without power.

Rochelle Long, spokeswoman for West Virginia Wesleyan College, also said power was off on Wesleyan’s campus for a short time. The Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library closed early Monday due to the power outage.

Todd Meyers, spokesman for First Energy, said Tuesday that the power outage affected initially about 1,090 customers when it happened at 8:45 p.m.

“There is a switch called a recloser and they were able to reconfigure that and they got 1,060 customers back on by about 9:35 p.m.,” Meyers said. “After that point, there were about 35 customers left and of those 35, all but four were back on by 11 p.m.”

Meyers said the pole and the wires had to be replaced and the final four customers were back on by 3:35 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Areas from the substation on Route 20 south along Route 20 to Tucker Street along College Avenue and Meade Street as well as the west side of Route 20  including Boggess Street and various side streets were all effected by the outage, according to Meyers.

Although a wire did not come down on the vehicle from Monday night’s wreck, Meyers wanted to remind readers that if there is a wire on your vehicle, you should not get out unless there is an extreme danger such as the car is one fire.

“The best place to be is in your car, even with live wires on your car, because you are grounded by the rubber tires and you are insulated,” he said. “If you absolutely have to get out of the car, you must never have one foot on the car and one on the ground. You complete the circuit to the ground. Jump as far away from the car as you can with both feet and when you land, instead of picking up a foot off the ground and walking away, take tiny little shuffle steps.”


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