Hwy. 101 reopens after suspected DUI driver hits power pole in Arroyo Grande

newsroom@thetribunenews.comOctober 24, 2013 

UPDATE: Transient arrested in alleged DUI crash that closed Hwy. 101 »

UPDATE 11 p.m.: Highway 101 in Arroyo Grande reopened late Thursday night after being closed for almost four hours. A suspected DUI driver created havoc earlier in the evening when he knocked over a power pole, sending the pole and electrical lines sprawling across the highway.

The driver ran into the pole at El Camino Real near Bennett Avenue at about 6:36 p.m., causing the transformer to explode and knocking out power to 5,379 PG&E customers, officials said.

The CHP closed Highway 101 in both directions at 7:05 p.m., diverting southbound traffic onto Halcyon Road and northbound traffic onto Traffic Way. Some drivers drove the wrong way to get off the highway and away from the power lines, according to the CHP.

No one was injured in the crash and Arroyo Grande police arrested the driver and took him to County Jail, Arroyo Grande police Commander Beau Pryor said. The driver’s name was not immediately available.

PG&E was able to restore power to all but 53 customers within two hours, spokeswoman Jana Morris said. The remaining customers would not have power until all repairs were completed, she said.

UPDATE 8:34 p.m.: The driver of the vehicle that crashed into the power pole was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and was taken to County Jail, Arroyo Grande police Commander Beau Pryor said. There were no injuries in the crash, which occurred on El Camino Real near Bennett Avenue, he said.

PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said 53 customers still have no power and will remain without power until repairs are finished. "I don't know yet when that will be," she said. 

She said the power pole and lines have been moved off Highway 101 but that phone lines and other utilities still must be moved.

A CHP spokesman said Highway 101 remains closed until the area is cleared. He did not know when that may be. 

UPDATE 8 p.m.:  The downed power line caused a power outage to 5,379 customers in Arroyo Grande at 6:36 p.m. Power was restored to all but 952 customers by 8 p.m. by switching them to a different circuit, PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said.

"We're  working in cooperation with the CHP so once the accident itself is cleared and it's safe for us to be out there, we will begin moving the power lines off the highway and begin repairs," Morris said.

ORIGINAL STORY: The California Highway Patrol issued an alert at 7:05 p.m. that Highway 101 is closed in both directions at Grand Avenue in Arroyo Grande due to power lines down across the freeway and nearby ramps.

A vehicle ran into a power POLE, causing a transformer to explode and knocking the pole over, according to the CHP website.

Southbound traffic on Highway 101 has been diverted onto Halcyon Road, and northbound traffic has been diverted from Highway 101 onto Traffic Way, according to the CHP.

This story will be updated as more details become available.

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