Driver goes around Knapp Road barricade, hits utility pole
An unLGHnWLfiHG wRPDn ErRuJKW WwR firH FRPSDnies, a medical corps and Montgomery Township police to Knapp Road Tuesday night after driving through a barricade and hitting a utility pole that had already been damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
“There are barricades up everywhere because of the storm. On Stump Road, we had a barricade up because there was a wire down across the road, and somebody drove through and ripped the wire out,” said Bill Wiegman, chief of the Fire Department of Montgomery Township.
“I guess when people want to get to where they’re going, they don’t really care what’s in their way,” he said.
In Tuesday’s case, around 5:15 p.m., a woman drove a silver Kia westbound on Knapp through barriers in place at the intersection with Lexington Road, and became entangled in power lines that, according to neighbors, had fallen due to Sandy’s high winds Monday night.
Montgomery Township police declined to identify the woman Tuesday or to say wKDW FKDrJHs wRuOG EH fiOHG for breaking the barricade and driving into a danger zone.
The woman was trapped in her car for slightly less than two hours as FDMT and Fairmount Fire ComSDny firHfiJKWHrs GLvHrWHG WrDIfiF DwDy IrRP WKDW block, and a PECO work crew arrived to de-energize, secure and remove the power lines.
“We can’t get too close to the area because we have to treat all wires like they’re live. In this case, we’re SrHWWy FRnfiGHnW WKDW WKHy are live, since there’s service to all of the houses around here,” Wiegman said.
Neighbors at the scene said homes on the Lansdale side of Knapp Road held power for nearly all of Monday night, while homes on the Montgomery Township side lost power early Tuesday and were still waiting for it to be restored when the accident took place. FDMT cleared the scene around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
While watching the rescue, two neighbors — borough council members Rich DiGregorio and Jack Hansen — walked up and down Knapp behind the police caution tape surrounding the downed lines, warning residents not to ignore barricades, especially after storms like Sandy.
“The last 24 hours, the barricades on Knapp Road have been up, and we have a lot of residents just blowing through the barricades and proceeding up the road,” DiGregorio said.
A crew from the Lansdale Electric Department had reinforced the barricade at Lexington less than 20 minutes before the accident, he said, but the biggest factor in preventing unnecessary accidents would be more driver attention.
“These guys work 24 hours, in storms, our EMS and our public works staff, so you’ve just got to pay attention. Hopefully this lady gets out no problem,” he said.
Hansen added that the borough had recently added speed limit signage along nearby S-bends on Knapp and its emergency management team had been on duty working on Sandy-related incidents for more than 24 hours straight before Tuesday’s accident.
“People come out and they ignore their own safety, and get out here and cause problems not only for themsHOvHs, EuW IRr Rur firsW rHsponders. That is not acceptable,” he said.
“All of the people in the borough have to learn to understand what’s out there, and don’t put these hardworking people in jeopardy,” Hansen said.
Police say a woman drove around a barricade Tuesday night on Knapp Road and hit a utility pole.