HEMET: Hundreds left without power overnight after SUV smashes into pole, bursts into flames
HEMET — Hundreds of Hemet residents were left without power overnight after an SUV lost control and smashed into a power pole, late yesterday afternoon. The impact brought the pole crashing down on top of the SUV, crushing its roof in, and left power lines dangling dangerously low to the street, trees, bushes, and nearby homes.
According to witnesses, the driver managed to scramble out the passenger side of the SUV just moments before the downed power lines caused the SUV to burst into flames, but there were no reported injuries related to the solo-vehicle crash.
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City of Hemet Police and Fire personnel, along with other emergency first responders, were dispatched to the accident near the intersection of W. Devonshire Ave. and Madrid St. shortly after 5 p.m., after receiving reports of the fiery crash.
When officials arrived at the scene, behind the Golden Village Palms RV Resort and near the Palm Court Apartments, they found a white Chevy Tahoe fully engulfed in fire, with flames soaring 30 or more feet in the air.
While the wrecked SUV’s horn blared and the fire crackled, thick black smoke billowed into the sky, bringing curious onlookers from around the surrounding neighborhoods. As the fire raged, the downed electrical pole and sagging power lines were also burning, threatening to spread to nearby mobile homes and foliage.
Officials found the SUV was unoccupied and its driver and sole occupant, Hemet resident Chadwick Brenn, was standing uninjured nearby watching his destroyed SUV burn.
Firefighters managed to quickly knock down the blaze and summoned Southern California Edison employees to the scene to assess and replace the damaged pole and power lines.
Officers who investigated the crash determined the SUV had lost control and jumped a curb before smashing head-on into the power pole.
Brenn, who was later determined to have been sober at the time of the crash, later stated he was traveling eastbound on Devonshire and lost control after he swerved to avoid a car that unexpectedly pulled out from Madrid.
Homeland resident Kassie Guinn later said she had driven upon the crash right after it happened. She described pulling over to offer aid and assistance to the driver of the SUV, who she said was still sitting inside the wrecked Chevy.
Brenn indicated he was uninjured, but asked the good Samaritan to call 911 for him to report the accident. According to Guinn, while she was reporting the crash, her boyfriend convinced the driver to exit the SUV and move to a safer area.
Guinn said that moments after Brenn exited the Chevy, sparks from the downed power lines caused the SUV to burst into flames.
Brenn’s sister, Brittney Pulatie, later thanked Guinn, first responders, and others, for helping her brother after the accident, writing on social media, “Thank you so much for pulling over to help my brother. He’s home safe with his wife and two sons.”
Brenn was evaluated at the scene of the crash by AMR medics and declined further treatment.
Southern California Edison officials responded to the scene and worked throughout the evening and into the next morning to replace the destroyed power pole and repair the damaged power lines.
The downed electrical lines reportedly caused homes throughout the area to lose power. Some area residents later reported that power was not fully restored for several hours, while others reported their power still being off more than 12 hours later the next morning.
Devonshire remained closed more than 16 hours after the crash, as SCE employees continued working to replace the destroyed pole and repairing the downed power lines.
Hemet PD’s collision investigation is ongoing.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” boasts 13 children and 14 – soon to be 16 – grandchildren.