Driver 'saved his own life' after striking utility pole, fire chief says
Grand Falls-Windsor driver had completed a course on power line hazards
Grand Falls-Windsor Fire Chief Vince MacKenzie says a driver likely saved his own life by not attempting to exit his truck after colliding with a utility pole.
Roads between Cromer Avenue and Pinsent Drive were closed around 11 a.m. on Sunday, while crews responded to the single motor vehicle collision.
"The driver of the vehicle, coincidentally, had a power lines hazard course that was taught to him at the college and he had sense enough to stay in the vehicle," the chief told CBC News.
"He knew that's the safest place to be because if the vehicle had become energized, once he stepped out he would have made the ground and it could have been very tragic. That kind of move certainly saved his own life."
Driver safely removed after <a href="https://twitter.com/NFPower">@NFPower</a> crews confirmed safe.Was energized while driver had sense enough to stay inside <a href="https://t.co/82ccKd0n03">pic.twitter.com/82ccKd0n03</a>—@FirechiefVince
MacKenzie said the driver swerved to avoid hitting another vehicle that had cut him off and, in the process, lost control and struck a pole directly in front of a Tim Hortons.
"This utility pole has a fair amount of weight and transformers, and is a main feeder line for this area," said MacKenzie.
"The pole came down on the vehicle — as a matter of fact the transformers were directly above the cab of the vehicle and the line remained energized as well, so the power was still on."
MacKenzie, who was among the first responders, said crews reassured the man that he was safe. They then waited for word from Newfoundland Power that electricity had been turned off.
Driver likely saved his own life by not attempting to exit vehicle until power was confirmed off by crews <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nltraffic?src=hash">#nltraffic</a> <a href="https://t.co/d95qLnMESl">pic.twitter.com/d95qLnMESl</a>—@FirechiefVince
MacKenzie said the transformers hanging above the driver's head weighed "a couple of thousand pounds," prompting crews to work as quickly and safely as possible.
"But again, [the driver] knew the procedure to not touch the ground and the vehicle at the same time ... so he was able to safely exit the vehicle," he said.
Strike a pole? Here's what to do
MacKenzie said that people in a similar situation should resist the urge to get out of their vehicle right away and, instead, wait until emergency crews arrive on the scene.
"You really have to assess the situation ... you're best to stay in the vehicle, unless there's a threat of fire," he said.
"If you do have to leave a vehicle ... you have to jump clear of the vehicle and make sure you don't touch the vehicle at the same time as you get off, and that can be very difficult."
Emergency responders, he said, always treat lines as live until told otherwise by Newfoundland Power or Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
No injuries were reported.