Accident on Highway 119 cuts cable TV, internet services in Taft area all day Saturday
A Bakersfield man narrowly escaped death by fire and electrocution after his car crashed into a power pole south of Valley Acres, shattering the pole and sending charged power lines to the ground where they landed on his car.
The downed lines touched off a grass fire.
It also caused a power outage and cut cable television and some telephone and internet service (including taftmidwaydriller.com) to the West Side for 18 hours, leaving the area with no cable TV from midday Saturday until Sunday morning.
The crash occurred on the east side of Highway 119 just north of Airport Road
Rescuers couldn't get near the car at first with the live power lines laying across the crumbled front of the small coupe. Fortunately, the flames burned away from the car, although the undercarriage did burn for a short time.
The power lines were eventually pulled off the car and the victim was finally freed more than half an hour after the crash and escaped with minor injuries.
“It could have been a tragedy for sure,” said Kern County Fire Department Battalion Chief Brent Moon.
The victim was a 20-year-old Bakersfield man whose name was not immediately released.
Moon said he suffered shoulder and neck pain and was also showing signs of heat stress after being trapped inside the car.
The rescue was aided by a man who responded to the scene with a hot stick, an insulated pole used for moving charged power lines.
Larry McWilliams works for Arden and is working at Elk Hills.
He said he got a call from a friend who was following the car that crashed.
“'He called me and said what do I do?',” McWilliams said. “I told him 'Tell the guy to stay in the car.'”
McWilliams arrived on scene with the hot stick even before firefighters.
After firefighters knocked down the grass fire and cooled down the smoldering car, McWilliams pulled the hot lines off the car while PG&E crews responded to cut the power.
The crash was reported at 12:40 p.m. and the victim was freed about 1:15 p.m.
He was taken by Hall Ambulance to a Bakersfield hospital for treatment. Moon described his condition as “good.”
Traffic on Highway 119 was halted for about an hour. It was down to one lane for several hours while crews replace the downed pole and replace the wires.