Rollover crash takes down power lines, shutting down North Kingshighway

Friday, January 11, 2013
Emergency workers work to remove a red Chevrolet Trail Blazer after a single-vehicle accident in the 1300 block of Kingshighway. The driver was heading northbound when he lost control, overturned, went off the road and struck a utility pole. The vehicle landed on its roof. Firefighters extricated a man in his late 20s while the power lines, which were on top of the vehicle with 1,500 volts going through them, were still live,Mark Hasheider, assistant chief with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department. The man was taken by ambulance to Saint Francis Medical Center. Hasheider didn't disclose the crash victim's name. (Adam Vogler)

It was a tough call, as assistant fire chief Mark Hasheider saw it. They could play it safe and wait for Ameren to arrive and turn off power. Or, the firefighters could try to extricate an injured man from his truck as the power lines and their more than 4,000 volts of current dangled overhead.

Emergency workers work to remove a red Chevrolet Trail Blazer after a single-vehicle accident in the 1300 block of Kingshighway. The driver was heading northbound when he lost control, overturned, went off the road and struck a utility pole. The vehicle landed on its roof. Firefighters extricated a man in his late 20s while the power lines, which were on top of the vehicle with 1,500 volts going through them, were still live,Mark Hasheider, assistant chief with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department. The man was taken by ambulance to Saint Francis Medical Center. Hasheider didn't disclose the crash victim's name. (Adam Vogler)

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department faced this dilemma after the driver of a Chevy TrailBlazer somehow flipped his truck as he traveled northbound on a rainy and wet North Kingshighway. The truck knocked down a utility pole and knocked out power in about 15 nearby homes.

The call for assistance came in shortly after 5 p.m., Hasheider said. Several blocks of the northbound lane -- rush-hour traffic -- had to be diverted to nearby Kingsway Drive. The crash closed the major Cape Girardeau street from Kurre Lane near the Ford Groves auto dealership, south to Hopper Road.

The accident took place as the driver of the vehicle was headed north, according to Cape Girardeau Police Department spokesman Darin Hickey. The driver lost control, Hickey said, as he changed lanes. The Trail Blazer left the roadway on the right side and flipped onto its top. It struck the utility pole and a fire hydrant, according to Hickey.

With the driver hanging upside down by his seatbelt, Hashheider could hear him moaning.

And the wires were still hot.

Firefighters opted to go for a rescue. As emergency first-responders, they knew the benefit of providing prompt treatment.

"It was an extremely dangerous situation," an admittedly worried Hashheider said. "It was a risk. But these guys are well trained and they know what they're doing."

Within a matter of minutes, the man -- described by Hashheider as in his late 20s or early 30s -- was removed and rushed via ambulance to Saint Francis Medical Center. Police did not release the driver's name.

Police were still investigating the circumstances of the one-vehicle accident. The section of North Kingshighway was blocked for hours -- as late as 9 p.m. -- as Ameren crews worked to repair the damage.

Hashheider was relieved none of the firefighters was hurt.

"You don't want to pull these guys back cause they're going to want to do it," Hashheider said. "But you have to judge the risk versus the benefit. They did all right."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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