Teen gets startling wet-weather driving lesson on New Year’s Day

What happens when a fast-moving vehicle hits a pond-size puddle of water on the roadway? Can you say “hydroplane”?

Officials say no one was injured in this crash – but look at the damaged caused, when this Volvo slammed through a sturdy wooden utility pole on SE Division Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
East Portland rang in the New Year with a torrential mid-day rainstorm, which temporarily flooded parts of major roads – like the 6400 block of SE Division Street.

“We were out on our porch when we saw this car coming [eastbound on SE Division Street] toward us,” reported an eyewitness in a nearby apartment building. “The road had a big pool of water on it; the car skidded on the water, and crashed right through the telephone pole. I ran down to try to help the people in the car, but my friends stopped me, because power lines were down all over the place.”

The witness’ description summed up what we observed when we arrived on scene. The gray Volvo sedan had hopped the curb and shattered a heavy, wooden utility pole before coming to rest on the sidewalk.

A PGE worker sizes up the situation and plans how they’ll install a new utility pole.  It looks as if this car is a total wreck – a difficult lesson to learn, as the new year begins.

The wires and cables above held up the utility pole, now hanging at a precipitous angle. Police cordoned off the area for hours while Portland General Electric crews worked into the evening to restore power.

According to officials, neither the unidentified 19-year-old driver, nor the 16-year-old and adult male passengers were injured, even though the vehicle’s airbags had deployed.

“It’s always a good idea to avoid pools of standing water on the roadway,” reflected a Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officer who was standing watch at the scene. “If you can’t avoid it, slow way down, and drive carefully.”

Next time.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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