'I didn't believe it'

SUV driver runs up Hayden power pole

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Chancey Merwin, owner of Merwin's Towing, maneuvers his way up the boom of his tow truck as he works to remove a large sport utility vehicle suspended by the cable of a power line Tuesday in Hayden. The driver was taken to Kootenai Medical Center for treatment following the single-car accident.

HAYDEN - Erika Young was home Tuesday afternoon when she got a call from her friend, January Lane.

Come down to Orchard Avenue and Government Way, Lane said. You won't believe this car wreck.

Young had her doubts until she received some pictures on her cell phone.

They showed an SUV with its front grill well up a power pole, stuck at an angle against the white electrical conduits.

She didn't wait any longer to get down there, as her friend suggested.

"I said, 'No way,'" Young said. "I was shocked. I didn't believe it could really happen."

Believe it.

Another hundred or so people on hand snapping away with cell phones and cameras did.

"I don't understand how you can get a car up a pole," Lane said as she looked on.

Sgt. Kevin Smart, with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department, said a man was driving westbound on Orchard Avenue about 4:50 p.m. when he stopped at the intersection crossing Government Way.

A witness told investigators she drove by the SUV, then heard the engine as the vehicle moved forward, crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed over a stop sign.

"She came back to check and she saw the vehicle was hanging on these wires hooked to this power pole," Smart said.

The SUV ran up the guide wires, which hooked on to the undercarriage.

"So that's how it's being held there right now," Smart said.

The driver was removed through the back window and was taken to Kootenai Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries.

Jim Rosenlund, Avista general foreman, said the power pole was de-energized while a towing company pulled the SUV free. Power was out to surrounding homes and businesses for about 45 minutes.

Three of the power pole conduits the SUV came to rest against each carried more than 7,600 volts.

"He's lucky he didn't break the pole in two," Rosenlund said. "If he broke the pole in two, he could have had that on top of him."

Before crews removed the SUV, a crowd gathered on corners and in parking lots to take pictures on a sunny afternoon.

Tom Iverson, with a Nintendo DSI, was one of them,

"I haven't seen anything like that since Marysville," he said of a time some 15 years ago when he saw a car that had also ran up the guide lines into a power pole. "That was something to see. I got to see it again."

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