By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
An Oshawa man faces several charges after he struck two hydro boxes with his vehicle in the early morning hours of Jan. 6, leaving roughly 100 homes without power for several hours.
At approximately 12:10 a.m., police were called to Irvine Scott Street near Grandview Street North after a vehicle collided with a hydro box. Witnesses stated a Dodge Ram pickup truck was driving dangerously before the collision occurred and the suspect vehicle fled the scene.
Less than 30 minutes later, police were called to the area of Galahad Drive and Glebe Avenue in Oshawa, where witnesses reported seeing the same vehicle travelling southbound on Galahad Drive before hitting a hydro box at the curbside. The driver exited his vehicle and fled the scene on foot. Officers were able to locate him a short distance away.
A 22-year-old of Phillip Murray Drive in Oshawa, is charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle; exceed; two counts of fail to remain and driving while under suspension. He was released on a promise to appear.
As a result of the collisions, 66 customers in the area of Grandview Street and William Lott Drive were without power for approximately six hours, while 37 customers in the Glebe Street-area were in the dark for around seven-and-a-half hours.
Oshawa Public Utilities Corporation (OPUC) CEO and president Ivano Labricciosa says the situation is new for him.
“This is the first we’ve seen somebody deliberately target our equipment. I don’t know if the person was intentionally doing that, but it’s not very often you see multiple pieces of equipment attacked by an external body,” he notes.
Labricciosa praised the work of the five-man crew to get power back on for the impacted customers in a relatively short time, especially under “tough conditions.”
“The fact it was -35 [degrees Celsius], one of the coldest days of the year, that makes it difficult when working with tools and sometimes you’re working barehanded and the wind is blowing and there’s no shelter,” he says. “But we got the job done and our guys don’t shy away from that.”
He did, however, express some regret that customers may have perceived OPUC employees had “walked away from the job” after seeing them leave the scene of the second collision.
Labricciosa explained that police were conducting an investigation at that time and there was “nothing we could do” initially.
“I think we lost a bit of image in front of our customers, but we went back to the first [site] to let the police do their job, and they were very good to us and let us know when they were finished so we could come back.”
Both hydro boxes, which Labricciosa says are valued at “tens of thousands of dollars”, had to be completely replaced.
“There was no recovery of the material. We actually had to take them out of service. We’ll eventually get them refurbished and back out into the system.”