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Mt. Pleasant Medic 10 assesses damage from power surge caused by crash

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

State police continue to investigate a recent one-vehicle accident in Mt. Pleasant Township in which a vehicle struck a utility pole, creating a power surge causing nearly $3,000 in damage to electrical equipment at Mt. Pleasant Medic 10, according to Mt. Pleasant Borough Volunteer Fire Chief Jerry Lucia.

At about 1 p.m. on Oct. 21, a vehicle reportedly collided into the pole along School Street, which caused an inordinate amount of electricity to flow through the lines to multiple area homes and businesses, along with Medic 10, in the township and borough, Lucia said.

“Once the accident occurred, what it did is it caused an electrical backfeed, or surge, and there's been a lot of appliances malfunctioning because of that surge,” Lucia said.

Shortly after the accident, the borough fire department was called to respond to reports of smoke at Medic 10, the borough ambulance service located at 100 E. Main St.

“There was smoke coming from the wall ballasts, or starter units for the lights,” Lucia said. “Once we cleared the smoke, I contacted an electrician to investigate the building.”

That investigation revealed significant damage to the agency's interior and exterior electrical appliances, Lucia said, including the light ballasts, an electric heater, an emergency door opener and three outside lights.

“I would say right now we're at slightly more than $2,800 in damages, and the investigation isn't over yet,” said Lucia, adding that he cannot recall dealing with an incident of similar nature.

Elsewhere, Orchard Hill Drive residents Joan and Richard Pologruto arrived home at dusk that day to discover multiple neighboring residences along School Street in the dark.

The couple then tried to turn on the Sony model television in their basement game room to no avail. Upon investigating the cause of the malfunction, the couple was able to determine it was due to the surge.

“There were other appliances, a radio receiver, a VCR unit that still work. The TV is the one. We just replaced it last night,” Joan Pologruto said recently. “My freezer, and everything else, is working fine, but I'm thinking of having an electrician examine everything.”

On Oct. 23, Lucia received an email from Terri Grabiak Knupp, area manager of FirstEnergy, which directed those affected on filing claims for restitution.

According to the message, it is suggested that those affected file a claim with West Penn Power by calling 1-800-686-0021.

The company will respond be sending the applicant a denial letter because the damage was caused by a vehicle accident.

“Most home owners (insurance) policies will request this denial letter if the customer files a claim with their own insurance,” Knupp said.

Those affected can also file a claim with the insurance company which represents the driver who allegedly struck the pole, Knupp said.

“They will need to contact the police department for a copy of the police report,” she said. “They will then need to contact that insurance company on their own.”

Lucia said he has instructed the borough police department to do what they can to obtain a copy of the state police report filed on the accident for use by those affected in filing such claims.

The Mt. Pleasant Journal also placed a request for a copy of the report.

As of deadline, the report had not been released to either local police or the Journal.

“This is the first time that I've run into this,” Knupp said. “This is the first time that I've had a car accident that caused surge that caused damages to appliances.”

Lucia said the investigation into the damage done, and those affected, will continue locally.

“This will be ongoing,” he said.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or apanian@tribweb.com.

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