Independence Township firefighters treat the injured driver of a vehicle hit by a truck on Main Street, Monday afternoon. Photo by Phil Custodio
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Ryan Kamykowski of Clarkston was having lunch at Brioni Cafe on M-15 when the parking lot exploded with electricity.
“Everyone screamed,” Kamykowski remembered, describing the chaos when a semi-truck crashed through the outside dining area of the restaurant and into a utility pole in the 7000 block of N. Main Street. “It looked like he came within 10 feet of the windows.”
The truck was traveling south on M-15 about 1 p.m., Monday, when it hit a vehicle and trailer near Bluegrass Drive, veered to the right off the roadway, barely missing Brioni’s, and coming to rest in the ditch just south of the parking lot, said Independence Township Fire Chief Mitch Petterson.
“He struck the landscape, the patio furniture, some signage, a large tree, and the utility pole – splitting completely through it, damaging a number of utility lines,” Petterson said.
“He seemed to be going pretty fast,” said Jen G. of Clarkston, who was driving northbound on M-15 from Clarkston Road when the truck veered off the road. “He looked like he was trying to stop. The look on his face, he was scared.”
Bob McGowan of Independence Township was in the Gateway shop across the street.
“I heard a big explosion, a zap sound, and there was a huge flash up there on the pole,” McGowan said.
“It exploded three times,” Kamykowski said.
Steve McLean was in his home next door when the multi-vehicle accident occured.
“We heard a loud boom, then a second boom,” McLean said. “I looked out the side window and saw the truck in the ditch with wires all over it.”
He and others ran over to help stop traffic. An ER doctor, he was ready to treat the truck driver but it was too dangerous.
“We yelled at the driver to stay in the vehicle – we didn’t want him to touch the wires,” McLean said. “Police got here, then the firefighters.”
DTE emergency personnel arrived within about 20 minutes, turned off the power, cut away tree branches, and freed the driver, who suffered minor injuries in the crash.
Firefighters used power saws to extricate the driver of an SUV that was hit by the truck, and he was transported to a local trauma center with non-life threatening injuries, Petterson said.
Power outages resulting from the crash affected about 2,000 DTE customers from downtown Clarkston past Clarkston Junior High School on Waldon Road to Dixie Highway and Sashabaw Road. Power to most was restored within a couple hours.
DTE crews worked late into the evening to replace the pole and repair wires. They were able to limit the extended power outage to a couple of addresses adjacent to the incident scene, Petterson said.
Due to electrical issues caused by the incident, the fire department received a couple automatic fire alarm calls, and a possible building fire occured around the same time. They were assisted by the Brandon, Springfield, and Waterford fire departments through the mutual aid system, the ITFD chief said.
The driver of the truck was cited for Reckless Driving, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. No bystanders were injured in the incident.
Residents took to social media to share concerns about speed on M-15 through town. This past Oct. 4, a car ran over a street sign and hit a utility pole on M-15 at Robertson Court. Last year on April 20, a truck hit two vehicles before smashing into a dental office on M-15 at Waldon Road.