Police say a man stole a dump truck and took it on a drunken joy ride that destroyed light poles and power lines in the city of Colville.
Robert Gene Bankston Hartman, 28, told officers he didn't mean to knock down the lines when he stole the dump truck from a construction site and drove it through town. He said he'd had about 14 beers when police confronted him about 9:45 p.m. on July 23, but later told police he'd actually been drinking vodka.
Police had heard residents were trapped in their homes at South Wynne Street and West Columbia Avenue because of down power lines. They soon realized Hartman and the stolen dump truck were to blame. Hartman abandoned the truck at 1st Street and Railroad Street and ran, but an officer blocked his path with his police car.
About 1,400 people lost power for about two hours because of the melee. The area extended from Highway 395 at Pingston Creek to just south of Colville, from Valley Westside just east of Colville High School, police said.
One witness told police that Hartman was laughing while he was striking the power lines.
Hartman's blood alcohol level registered at .226 and .220. The legal limit for driving is .08.
Hartman is charged with first-degree malicious mischief, second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission and drunken driving.