Crane Accidents

Crane Leaves Islands Powerless



People pulled candles and camping supplies from storage. Peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches served as makeshift dinners. Pets and children were bundled up and stuck in front of seldom-used fireplaces.

A power outage Monday on Tybee, Wilmington and Whitemarsh islands caused more inconvenience and discomfort than major problems.

A crane on a barge struck a power line about 2 p.m. while backing up during road construction on Turners Creek Bridge east of Savannah. The crane broke the wire with its spud, a steering and anchoring device.

The equipment was operated by a crew from TIC – The Industrial Co.

The accident left 13,575 customers on the islands without power for about seven hours during one of the coldest days this fall and clogged traffic on U.S. 80, plus nearby roadways.

“I was so mad,” said Wilmington Island resident JoAnn Kopper, who lost use of her power, water and portable phone. “It’s cold inside and I have a hairless cat.”

But it wasn’t anything extra blankets, gas grills or eating out couldn’t solve – even for Georgians unaccustomed to such raw weather.

Meanwhile, the main headaches were trying to find out what went wrong with the TIC crane, controlling traffic and restoring power as quickly as possible.

Savannah Electric and Power Co. crews had most power back on by 9 p.m., said spokesman John Kraft.

Steamboat Springs, Colo.-based TIC, which is doing the road widening project on U.S. 80, is looking into why the spud severed the power line, said site manager Clark George of TIC’s Savannah office.

Four workers – three on the barge and one on the connected tugboat – were not injured, George said.

“Obviously we don’t want to get into power lines,” George said. “That’s our No. 1 concern. Exactly how this happened I don’t know yet. I am more concerned with getting it taken care of right now.”

Officials did not know how much the repair would cost or who would be liable for damages.

The wire was cut and knocked into the marsh behind Snappers Seafood Restaurant, said Earl Woods, Savannah Electric spokesman.

“We were lucky that there were no injuries,” Woods said. “It’s just a major inconvenience on one of the coldest days we’ve had so far this year. It’s a good time to go visit people on the mainland.”

Looking to the mainland for help saved Jim Briglia of Savannah. He had reservations for a Christmas party of 60 at Snappers Seafood Restaurant, but the outage closed the restaurant for the night.

At the last minute, the group found room at Tubby’s Tank House in Thunderbolt, Briglia said. For them at least, “it turned out to be a happy accident.”

Category: Accident Report

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