BELFAST, Maine — A teen who fell asleep while driving Tuesday evening on Route 3 in Belfast caused a widespread power outage that lasted more than five hours for some affected people, according to Belfast police.
Matthew Oxton, 19, of Belfast fell asleep behind the wheel of a 2007 Ford Taurus and drifted across the centerline about 8:30 p.m., Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden said Wednesday.
“He left the road and struck a guidewire to a power pole,” the chief said. “It snapped the pole about 10 feet up, and it sent a ripple down the wires, ripping wires and upsetting poles and such, possibly in two directions.”
Oxton was OK after the crash, McFadden said, and showed no signs of impairment. Neither speed nor alcohol were considered factors, he added.
“He simply fell asleep,” McFadden said. “He was very lucky. The moral of the story is, pull over and take a nap.”
But the crash did affect Central Maine Power customers in the vicinity for a few hours.
“CMP was called, and they responded quickly to the scene, but they had a lot of work to do,” McFadden said. “A lot of people had interrupted service.”
One of those people was Linda Bucklin of Belfast, whose power did not come back on until about 2 a.m. Wednesday. She said she saw on social media that many people were affected who lived fairly far from the Route 3 crash.
“I figured it had to be pretty serious,” she said. “I was surprised at the widespread outages it caused. It seems like it hit a lot of different areas.”
According to Gail Rice of CMP, the outage affected 2,148 customers in Belfast, Lincolnville, Montville, Morrill, Northport and Searsmont. Although 17 customers had their power turned back on in about an hour, most had to wait a lot longer than that, she said.
“The rest got it back at 2 a.m. after our crews reset the pole and put everything back together,” Rice said.
So many people were affected because the circuit disrupted by the crash has about 165 miles of line and serves a wide geographic area, she said. The crash happened close to the beginning of the line, about three miles from the Belfast West Side Substation, so anything located what she called “downstream” of the crash site was knocked out.
“At this time, we do not have options to switch the feed to another circuit like we do in some areas,” Rice said.