An early morning car crash in Memphis knocked out electricity for a portion of the town on Sunday, January 21st and resulted in an extended power outage for several city utility customers.
According to the Memphis Police Department, the crash was believed to have occurred at 1:58 a.m. The crash was not reported, however the power outage impacted the Scotland County Courthouse and knocked out electricity to the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, impacting the dispatching services for law enforcement, fire and ambulance.
City utility workers located the cause of the outage at Memphis Farm & Home. The power pole located near the north driveway entrance to the store’s parking lot had been completely sheared off at the base. It was apparent the problem had been caused by a car crash, due to a large amount of debris still present at the scene of the crime, including a large section of the vehicle’s front end, including the license plate intact.
Law enforcement officers were able to use the license information to identify the vehicle and were able to locate the car in the owner’s drive.
Jed M. Troutman, age 21, of Memphis, was ticketed for leaving the scene of an accident and failure to drive on the right half of the roadway, resulting in an accident.
The charges are mere accusations and are not evidence of guilt. Evidence in support of these charges must be presented before a court of competent jurisdiction whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
The latter ticket is a class A misdemeanor, which can be subject to a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in the county jail.
Under Missouri Law, leaving the scene of an accident, where property damage in excess of $1,000 has occurred, can be considered a Class E felony, which is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 and can result in imprisonment for up to four years. The offense is a class A misdemeanor if there is no physical injury, the defendant has not previously pled guilty to a similar offense, or if the property damage does not exceed $1,000.
Missouri lawmakers indicated the new Class E felony classification was created under 2017 Missouri statue revisions in part as an effort to add teeth to the state’s driving while intoxicated sentencing structure, with a third time DWI offense now a class E felony. Under current state statues, a first time DWI offender faces a class B misdemeanor. A second offense is a class A misdemeanor.
Memphis Utilities Superintendent Stacy Alexander reported the power outage lasted until early morning, with city crews working until after noon Sunday restoring power to the final customers impacted by the crash.
Alexander noted that the particular pole that was hit had housed two distribution circuits on this pole, one each for the city’s older transmission lines and one for the newer system.
“It appears that the 7200 and 2400 circuits got tangled into each other,” said Alexander. “There was substantial damage at the power plant due to a 2400-volt circuit switch that failed to trip.”
Alexander stated that the 7200-volt system, which powers much of the north part of town, was out for less than a minute.
He reported that all three 69,000 volt fuses blew at the power plant on one of the system’s older transformers.
“We were able to close switches and restore power on all of the 2400-volt circuits except for #2 at about 4:10 a.m.,” stated Alexander.
The resulting damage to the switch as well as some underground wiring at the power plant, prevented power from being restored to area immediately adjacent to the crash site, and also impacted the city’s water plant.
“We had to make restoring power to the water plant a priority at that point,” said Alexander. “We had the power restored to the water plant and everywhere but the Farm & Home area by about 7:45 a.m.”
The work crews then transitioned to replacing the broken power pole and restoring power at Farm & Home. Dollar General and Keith’s Café, which finally came back online at around 1 p.m.
The Sheriff’s Office reported the power outage resulted in numerous issues related to Lifeline and related medical monitoring devices that kept the ambulance service busy, and also resulted in security alarm issues at local businesses that required law enforcement responses.