GPS steers semi driver into trouble; Front St. power out briefly

Broken power and cable lines hung above the sidewalks and were curled in piles on Front Street Tuesday after a semi truck driver traveling on the street snagged the lines on top of his truck bed and unwittingly continued driving. Eventually three utility poles snapped or were pulled completely from the ground.

The accident occurred shortly before noon as semi driver Edwin A. Thomas, 60, of Hurricane, W.Va., was departing from the Marietta Shrine Club after making a delivery, said Patrolman Jake Dennison of the Marietta Police Department.

“The truck route is actually (Ohio) 60, which is Third Street. Due to the road work on Second Street….his GPS had taken him on that route,” said Dennison in reference to the Front Street.

Second Street between Marion and Montgomery streets was closed Tuesday while Marietta’s Wastewater Department worked to repair a sewage emergency.

Front Street resident Tommie Myers and his family had been getting out of their car when the semi drove by.

“He wasn’t going that fast. The lines got hooked and he just kept going and pulled ’em down,” said Myers.

The accident caused enough hubbub to get the attention of Anna Swisher, who lives nearly a block away from the scene of the accident on Second Street.

“I was laying down and heard it. It woke me up. It sounded like a loud boom,” she said.

The crash caused Swisher’s power to flicker off twice, but ultimately it came back on soon after the accident, she said.

The initial crash affected 181 American Electric Power customers, said AEP Ohio spokeswoman Fay White.

“They put in a temporary fix that would keep all but two customers (on) while they work to fix the problem,” she said.

The crews expected to have new poles installed and power permanently restored by Tuesday evening, she added.

Suddenlink Communications was also on scene repairing equipment, said Marietta Fire Chief C.W. Durham.

Suddenlink did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Responders from the Marietta Fire Department and Marietta Police Department kept the area cordoned off and kept bystanders away from the downed lines while the utility companies responded, said Durham.

No one, including the driver, was hurt in the accident, he said.

Thomas is not expected to be cited, said Dennison.

With Second Street closed, Front Street or a sharp turn onto Marion Street were his only options and his GPS instructed him to take Front Street, noted Dennison.

Front Street is not a truck route, except for trucks specifically making deliveries on the street. However, there are no signs indicating this on the section of road where the truck was, said Dennison.