Semi knocks out power on Strip

By Gus Bode

A semi-truck driver snagged a support wire for a utility pole Tuesday evening on the Strip, causing a chain reaction that left the street dark for hours.

Steve Denson, a driver for American Wholesale Furniture, was turning right into a parking lot at G & S Furniture about 5:30 p.m. when he cut the turn short and snagged the wire, which pulled on connecting wires for a row of utility poles. The tension caused one pole to crack in half and topple onto a tree in front of Hangar 9.

Traffic lights were out from Wall Street to Route 13, where the police also blocked off the Strip to prevent any other tall vehicles from pulling on the low-hanging wires, causing frustrated drivers to find an alternate route.

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Ameren CIPS crews rushed to return power, with some businesses regaining power after a few hours and others waiting until after midnight.

A Carbondale police officer on the scene said Denson would be ticketed for an improper turn.

Sam Abraham, owner of Sam’s Caf on the corner of College Street and South Illinois Avenue, said he was outside when he heard a crash then saw sparks shooting out of the utility pole in front of his business.

He spent most of the evening on the corner, watching repair crews and explaining the situation to passers by. Abraham said the power outage would hurt his business, estimating that he would lose about $1,700.

“I feel bad for the guy, but I have to do business,” Abraham said. “People don’t understand when they call and I tell them we don’t have power. Not only that, but what about my employees? They aren’t getting paid either.”

Denson, who is based out of Indianapolis, said he has been driving semi trucks for six years, and while he felt bad, he said he was relieved no one got hurt.

“Things happen,” Denson said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

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Reporter Monique Garcia can be reached at [email protected]

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