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Crashing Halloween

One Halloween, I was working as a trouble man doing an afternoon shift when suddenly I got one of those calls. Semi-trailer hit by train right in the middle of town right as it got dark!

When I arrived on scene, I saw the truck had been driven sideways down the tracks about 100 yards. There were red tomatoes and red peppers spread all down the tracks like blood.

The poles on both sides of the intersection had 69 KV circuits with twin under-build 25 KV circuits. Two transmission circuits had tripped out,3 out of 4 distribution circuits were out. The ambulance and fire trucks were waiting to attend the scene but needed to know if everything was safe to touch! 

Once on site,  I was very busy trying to identify the status of the circuitry between different operation desk authorities. The train dispatchers, police and fire captain needed information. I asked for patience and to please let me do my thing before anyone tries to help the truck driver.

He was laying in the cab of the semi which was on a 45 degree angle with a wire cutting half way through his cab. 

It was dark and I had just set up my truck to be able to go up and see which circuits, poles and wires were down. Talking hands free and looking down the tracks, I could see the top transmission circuit had broken arms and the wire had landed through the cab. The driver did not get energized as the wire hit the lower circuits and tripped before it got down to the train and truck. Good thing! 

Most of the poles were still intact and none of the distribution wire was ripped down except for the neutral conductors. Okay, all we needed to do was open switches, which fortunately were close by and get some grounds on.

I was able to use the Moddiwok and apply a set of grounds on the one wire going into the cab to allow the ambulance guys to rescue the driver. They figured that the driver had passed out from drinking while his truck was being loaded. So, I guess they were both getting loaded at the same time. 

Traffic was all messed up by the gremlins running around town, so our crews were slow getting on site. The train people wanted to clear the track as we established that it had not been energized and there wasn’t a fatality. Fire department was good since the semi didn’t spill its diesel oil. When they arrived, the line crews finished the isolation moves and grounding. Once the semi was towed, it was easy enough to clear the train out. 

After handing the call off to the crew leaders, I sat down on my bumper and looked around. It looked like hundreds of carloads of spooky looking kids eating candy and watching a scary movie! There were thousands of veggies (tomatoes, red, yellow and orange peppers, cucumbers and zucchini) strewn all along the tracks,

In the end, the truck driver didn’t get hurt and was not impaired; he had passed out because his medication was off.

Halloween every year for me brings back the memory of that call. You could say it haunts me.

Bruce Masse – Trouble Technician

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