Bill Steacy was driving westbound on Highway 50 near Shingle Springs Saturday evening with his wife and two young children. Suddenly, up ahead it looked like fireworks erupted over the freeway. Power lines were blocking the path of the Monterey family’s Toyota Tacoma pickup.
“These things were bouncing up and down, and it looked like tentacles on a giant monster,” Steacy said. “There was just no way to slow down in time to miss them.”
The front of Steacy’s pickup was badly damaged, but no one in the Tacoma was hurt in the chaotic 7 p.m. traffic accident that led to the closure of both directions of Highway 50 for nearly two hours. Nearly 4,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers in the Shingle Springs area lost power.
Sgt. David Varao of the California Highway Patrol said a woman in a Dodge pickup was driving along a road that parallels the busy highway when she crashed just into a power pole, shearing it off. The power lines cross Highway 50 and they came crashing down into oncoming traffic.
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The driver who crashed into the pole was badly injured, Varao said. Her name wasn’t immediately released.
Steacy’s pickup was among at least six other vehicles damaged by the downed power lines, Varao said.
Cynthia Vonessacos, and her husband, Dennis, were in his Ford F-150 pickup when they ran into the wires. The El Dorado Hills couple wasn’t hurt, but their pickup suffered a broken windshield, a damaged hood and its radio antenna was torn off.
“You don’t think to look up to see something hitting you from above,” she said. “It was pretty terrifying.”
PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said that most customers were expected to have electricity restored by 10 p.m., though crews likely will have to work through the night replacing the broken power pole and downed lines.