A motorist traveling westbound on SR-14 collided with a power pole Monday afternoon, causing a citywide power outage in Bingen and a closure of the roadway through the evening.
23-year-old Davon Donaldson, out of Portland, Ore., left the north side of the roadway and went through a power pole, causing it to break in half, said Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Mike Hepner in an email.
The collision occurred around noon, and initially shut down the city’s power grid, until crews were able to contain the outage to the west end of the city, from Daubenspeck Park, said April Greenlaw, operations support assistant with Klickitat Public Utility District. Greenlaw said power was restored around midnight.
Hepner said upon his arrival, Donaldson’s vehicle had come to rest on the south side of the roadway at the entrance to Mt. Adams Fruit.
“The top portion of the power pole was hanging in the air by the lines. The power lines blocked the roadway and SR-14 had to be closed until the Klickitat County PUD responded to repair the damages,” said Hepner.
The PUD was able to support the pole with one of their vehicles to reopen the road to traffic while crews worked to fix the lines, Hepner said.
Greenlaw told Columbia Gorge News the pole was very busy, with many utilities attached to it, requiring coordination between various crews to detach and install a new pole, one reason for the length of the outage. Once crews dug into the ground, they discovered a thick layer of rock, delaying efforts until later into the night as Klickitat PUD worked with a contractor to transport an excavator that could lift the pole out of the ground and install the new one.
Hepner said the driver was not impaired at the time of the collision. “My belief is he fell asleep,” said Hepner.
The investigation is ongoing, conducted by Hepner, who was assisted by Bingen and White Salmon Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Services, Washington State Patrol, and Klickitat County Sheriff’s Deputies.