The section of 11th street intersecting Sam Houston Avenue was shut down for several hours Tuesday when an 18-wheeler carrying logs rolled back and collided with a power pole and several cars.
Traffic had to be diverted away from the area and the accident caused about 500 initial power outages in the Downtown Square and northern parts of Huntsville.
Senior Patrol Officer David McGann said that the truck was traveling eastbound in the third lane at the 1200 block of U.S. 190 when the accident occurred. The truck was stopped at a red light behind another vehicle and when the light turned green, the driver attempted to move forward but stalled on the hill because of the load of logs.
Defective equipment and breaks then caused the truck to start rolling back and collide with a United States Postal truck, a Mercury Grand Marquis and a power pole. The Grand Marquis then collided with a Volkswagen Jetta, making the total number of cars involved three, but McGann said before the official investigation that there was a possibility that two more vehicles could have been involved that left the scene of the accident.
Callie McGee Antiques employee Lois Blake, an eyewitness at the scene said she saw some of the accident from the window and then the power went out.
“I saw the explosion of the transformer from the window,” said Blake. “I called 911 and went outside and saw that someone had started to direct traffic.”
Of the two power poles that were hit, one was a main circuit pole that broke at the base when struck by the log truck. Entergy Customer Service Manager Stan Foley said that 475 customers initially lost power. The company was able to restore power to at least 350 of these customers in under an hour, but the truck had damaged an underground power-line to the courthouse leaving it without power until 9 p.m.
“It was really a three-step restoration,” said Foley. “We were able to complete power restoration for all of the customers by 6 p.m., with the exception of the courthouse. We had to replace an underground cable that had been damaged during the accident, which was completed around 9:20 p.m. last night.”
The driver of the truck, Hector Leunta, who was leased under Sedita Trucking Incorporation, was issued two citations by the Huntsville Police Department for violating truck routes and for defective equipment and defective breaks. The Texas Department of Public Safety also took the driver and truck to higher ground after the accident to complete a full investigation.
McGann said that Sergeant Patrol Officer Ron Cleere was the first to encounter the accident. Several police vehicles also responded to the scene along with assistance crews from Entergy to take care of the power situation and city public works crews to help with the clean-up efforts.