Garbage truck crashes, thousands without power - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Garbage truck crashes, thousands without power

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December 15, 2004

Colquitt County - On the coldest day this season, a single accident caused more than 17,000 people in Colquitt County to be without power and heat. While swerving, a garbage truck driver cut the main power source to the entire county.

A garbage truck driver found tangled in a dangerous mess of power lines while trying to miss a dog. A passerby, Jimmy Chatman, says, "Missed the dog and hit that main power line, transmission line there."

The driver is Sammy Washington. Volunteer Firefighter, Randy Bennett, says, "He appears to be fine, yeah."

The heart of the system snapped in three pieces on Woodmen Road, right between two power stations. The 115,000 volt transmission line pole feeds the main power source into Colquitt County. Chatman says, "Pretty well got all of Colquitt County out of power, City of Moultrie everybody."

Five substations shut down and lines from Colquitt EMC, the City of Moultrie and Georgia Power merged into a mangled mess, messing up traffic and businesses. Gas stations couldn't pump gas. BP store owner, Leonard Robison, says, "Can't do much business like this."

Meanwhile, the show must go on. A few miles away, Okapilco Elementary actors and actresses are performing on a dark stage, dancing by power generated music and their audience heated by sunlight. Everyone going back to old ways. Robison calculates a sale, "Old ways, little calculator here to try to figure it out in your head."

And it took six hours for power companies to calculate how to get the garbage truck out of the power lines.

Okapilco Elementary was the only school without heat and power all day. The School Superintendent says they had buses nearby just in case students needed to warm up.

Most people had their power back on by five o'clock.

posted at 5:50PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com