A man was briefly trapped in his car Friday morning on the South Hill as a charged electrical wire sat on his hood.
The downed wire was due to a truck that had struck a power pole at about 8:30 a.m. at Grand Boulevard and 14th Avenue, causing it to fall toward traffic. Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said that while the pole hit nothing but concrete, the power line fell on top of a single vehicle – an SUV stopped at the intersection.
“The wire was down over his vehicle and it was energized,” he said.
Speaking to KHQ News shortly after he was freed by Spokane firefighters, Bruce Tweedy, the sole occupant of the vehicle, said he was headed south along Grand Boulevard when as he approached the traffic light, he noticed something strange falling from above.
“All of the sudden out of the corner of my eye I saw the telephone pole starting to tip over,” he told the TV station. “And then I saw the cable come across the hood of my car.”
Tweedy said he immediately stopped, called 911, and stayed put – a decision that likely led to him walking away unharmed. As a trained auto mechanic, he said he prefers to be extra cautious around electricity.
“I know that electricity does funny things,” he said. “You just don’t want to chance it. You stay still. You’re safe.”
Mary Tyrie, communications manager for Avista Utilities, said if someone finds themselves in a similar situation, they should imitate Tweedy.
“If others approach or attempt to help, remind them to stay away,” she said in an email. “Only if a fire or smoke forces you to leave should you get out. However, never touch the vehicle and ground at the same time or stand with your legs apart. Jump as far as you can away from the vehicle and land feet together. Keeping your feet together, shuffle away and don’t return to the vehicle until Avista says it’s safe.”
Schaeffer said when firefighters arrived they advised Tweedy to stay inside until Avista could de-energize the line.
“He was not injured and very happy to be able to continue his day,” Schaeffer said.
David Vowels, an Avista spokesman, said no customers lost power as a result of the collision; however, the traffic light lost power. The traffic light at Grand and 14th was expected to be out most of the day as crews work to replace the pole.
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