Upper Perk Police were called to the scene of a one-vehicle accident that occurred around 5:40 p.m. last Thursday at the corner of Pottstown Avenue and West Side Alley in Pennsburg that forced about two dozen people from their homes and created a power outage that lasted several hours.
According to a police report, a 48-year-old Schwenksville man was operating a 2010 Ford F-150 pick-up truck that was traveling south on Pottstown Avenue (Route 663) when the vehicle veered across the northbound lane and struck a utility pole at the corner of West Side Alley. According to witnesses, the vehicle was traveling between 35 and 40 miles-per-hour and made no attempt to slow down before it struck the pole.
The pole was sheared in half near the base and the transformer and wires attached to it were burning. Pennsburg Fire Company was dispatched to the scene and notified Pennsburg emergency management officials of the evacuation.
According to Pennsburg Chief Scott Seip, the electrical wires to several homes in the area had been “ripped from the buildings” and power was out in the immediate area of the crash.
The operator of the vehicle, who was not hurt, reported to police that he had attempted to avoid striking an animal that ran in front of his vehicle when he struck the pole. He also reported that he was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and was “tired.”
Police located the driver in a neighbor’s house where he had gone after hitting the pole, to get a drink of water.
Several witnesses to the accident reported that they did not see any animal crossing Pottstown Avenue in front of the pick-up truck and police reported no skid marks from the vehicle prior to the impact.
Fire police closed Pottstown Avenue from Seminary Street to Main Street as the wires continued to burn, causing significant damage to sidewalk and street surfaces. Fire company personnel and police evacuated residents from the south-side of Fourth Street and the 400 block of Dotts Street. Some of the residents were relocated to the Pennsburg Municipal Building.
Workers from Pennsylvania Power and Light arrived around 6:30 p.m. Power was restored to the surrounding area about two hours later, but some homes closer to the incident were without electricity for a longer period of time. Repairs to the damaged pole kept Pottstown Avenue closed until 3:30 a.m. Friday.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation workers arrived around 8:30 p.m. to barricade the area from Main to Dotts streets and make repairs to Route 663.
According to police, the driver said he was in New York chopping wood earlier in the day and admitted to stopping on the way home to get food and “a few beers.” He also said that he had taken his diabetes medication earlier in the day.
After submitting to a field-sobriety and preliminary breath test, the pick-up truck operator agreed to be transported by Upper Perk Police to St. Luke’s hospital in Quakertown for a blood test. The name of the driver is being withheld pending the outcome of that test.
Also assisting at the scene were fire police units from Hereford, Milford Township and Red Hill fire companies. An emergency medical unit from Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance Association also responded to the scene.