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Rescuers stalled by BC Hydro

One woman was hurt after she drove off Alder Street and struck a utility pole which split in three places. The accident occurred Monday afternoon. - Paul Rudan/The Mirror
One woman was hurt after she drove off Alder Street and struck a utility pole which split in three places. The accident occurred Monday afternoon.
— image credit: Paul Rudan/The Mirror

Injured and bleeding, she wants out of the car wreck.

“Get me out of here!” she pleads.

Standing by are firefighters, paramedics and police. But there’s little they can do until a hydro crew arrives. Instead, they offer calm and authoritative reassurances.

“Stay there!”

“Help is coming!”

“Don’t move!”

The 36-year-old injured driver listens and stays put. For now.

Approximately 15 minutes earlier, she was driving south on Alder, between 6th and 7th Avenues, when she lost control of the red two-door Oldsmobile and slammed straight into a utility pole on the right side of street.

The impact splits the wood pole, crushes the front end of the car and sends the front left hubcap spinning 40 metres up the road.

Emergency crews arrive within minutes of the 911 call, which comes at 4:47 p.m., and quickly close off the street to traffic. But there’s not much else they can do.

The pole supports live wires, a 1,000-pound transformer and a street light. The fear is the pole will collapse and could electrocute the victim as well as emergency workers.

“My family expects me home tonight,” says a firefighter.

So he stands and waits for BC Hydro to arrive in order to secure the pole and cut the power. However, he walks partway across the street and uses a pole to slip an insulating pad under the woman’s feet – she’s sitting halfway out from the driver’s seat – just in case.

And then he retreats back to where the other emergency workers are standing and waiting. They keep looking up the road for hydro to arrive and their frustration mounts.

“Come on, come,” he mutters.

The female victim is also becoming impatient as she cries out in pain, “I can’t make it, you don’t understand!”

But they do understand and implore her to stay inside the car.

“Deep breaths, nice and slow. The hospital’s waiting for you,” says a paramedic.

At 5:15 p.m., a BC Hydro boom truck and a lineman arrives. He assesses the situation, but does nothing. A second truck is required to properly secure the heavy transformer.

Ten minutes later, the second truck and lineman shows up. They manoeuvre their trucks beside the pole as one worker goes up in the bucket and secures the transformer to the boom.

Finally, at 5:39 p.m., emergency crews safely cross the street and attend to the victim. She’s loaded onto a stretcher and taken to Campbell River hospital with undisclosed injuries.

It’s been almost an hour since she hit the pole.

– The accident also knocked out power across a good portion of the city. According to BC Hydro, 2,163 customers are affected. Hydro crews remain at the scene for four hours to replace the pole and then the power is turned back on at 9:09 p.m.

paulr@campbellrivermirror.com

 

 

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