Junction City semi-truck festival ends early as tow truck snags utility lines

Truck Function in Junction came to an early end when the boom on a heavy-equipment tow truck inadvertently elevated and snagged power, phone, and cable TV lines, July 15, 2017. (Photo courtesy Junction City Police Department)

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. -- Junction City's annual event, Truck Function in Junction, showcasing semi and other commercial vehicles, came to an early end Saturday night at 8:34 p.m. when the boom on a heavy-equipment tow truck inadvertently elevated and snagged power, phone, and cable TV lines crossing Ivy St. (Hwy 99) at 16th St, Junction City Police Dept. said.

"The heavy-duty boom, flying an American flag, and powered by the enormous tow vehicle, was so strong that it snapped telephone poles like twigs, ripped utility service entrance equipment from the roofs and walls of nearby buildings, destroyed transformers, and blew multiple utility circuit breakers," police said in a news release. "Remarkably, no one was injured."

All utility service provided by lines in the crossing was immediately lost. A spokesperson for Pacific Power & Light said 151 customers were initially without power, but as of 12:26 a.m. Sunday, all but 29 had been restored. PP&L said they expected to have power restored to the remaining customers by 11 a.m. Sunday.

The number of phone and cable TV customers impacted by the incident remains unknown, police said. Hwy 99 (Ivy St.) remained closed to all traffic from 18th to 14th Street until utility workers were able to remove the low-hanging lines around 10:18 p.m., according to the report.

The cause of the incident was a malfunctioning remote control for the boom on the tow truck, police said, which caused the boom to raise without the knowledge of the operator.

"There was no indication of criminal negligence or wrongdoing on the part of the driver," police said. "Alcohol was not a factor in this incident, and the driver , as well as the owner of the truck, were fully cooperative during the investigation of this incident. No citations and/or charges were issued, and none are anticipated."

Personnel from Junction City Police Department were assisted by the Junction City Fire Department, Junction City Public Works, Oregon Department of Transportation Incident Response Team, Pacific Power and Light, and the Truck Function in Junction event staff.

Moving forward, event officials said they will no longer allow booms to be retracted during the show.

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