Utility pole falls onto van at Greensboro business

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A woman was eating lunch in her van Monday when a utility pole crashed onto her vehicle.

“I had just gotten into the van, and I heard something creaking. I looked and I could see the pole falling. I knew I couldn’t exit out the car so I kinda crunched over this way because I knew it was going to hit the top and didn’t know if it was going to come through or not,” explained Pam Herndon.

Herndon was okay but obviously shaken up as she realized she was surrounded by live wires.

She said she immediately knew not to get out of the vehicle.

Fortunately, she works just across the street from Greensboro Fire headquarters so firefighters were at the scene almost immediately.

Battalion Chief Brandan Weaver said the utility pole fell just after 12 p.m. at Southern Optical, which is located at 1909 N. Church St.

They notified Duke Energy and Weaver said power workers responded within 15 minutes to knock out power to the area and remove the wires from the van.

Duke Energy was on the scene late into the afternoon, but at this point, there is no word on what caused the pole to fall.

A substance firefighters believe is mineral oil leaked into a nearby storm drain. Weaver said mineral oil is often used in transformers as a coolant. City Environmental staff were at the scene determining whether the substance contaminated Buffalo Creek.

“This is unusual for us,” added Weaver. “We’ve seen poles fall before but not with people sitting in cars.”

As of 5:15 p.m. Monday, crews were still working to install a new pole.

“I know it’s a windy day-but a sturdy pole should not have fallen like that I don’t think,” Herndon added.

FOX8 is waiting to hear back from Duke Energy about why the pole fell and how old it was.