Driver Charged With OWI After Destructive Trail Leaves Residents Without Powerby Jana Ritter - Published: 2/01/2017
An Ohio truck driver has been charged with driving drunk and causing a trail of destruction in a Chelsea, MA neighborhood on Tuesday night. After crashing into hydrants and several parked cars, the semi-truck then proceeded to hit a transformer, which erupted in flames and left at least 50 homes without power.
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According to police, 46-year-old Douglas Ray McClellan of Ohio was operating his tractor-trailer under the influence of alcohol late Tuesday evening, around Broadway and Library Street. While it's uncertain whether he was actually on the job at the time of the incident, McClellan was driving a truck that belonged to his employer, Ploger Transportation of Bellevue, OH. At around 11:30 p.m. he was driving in the tightly congested neighborhood of Chelsea and lost control of his tractor-trailer. He then hit 2 fire hydrants, 3 parked cars, a fence and an electrical transformer all within minutes. The incident escalated into a more urgent situation when the transformer burst into flames and left over 50 homes without electricity for the rest of the night.
“It sounds like something is exploding,” explained a resident who reported the incident to police. “Once he hit that big electric thing, I called the cops and they responded quickly. He was trying to take off after he hit all these things.”
Chelsea firefighters also rushed to the scene to tackle the transformer fire before things got worse. “We had a tractor trailer who was unfamiliar with the area, it’s a tightly congested area. He struck a pad-mounted generator with a minimum of 13,000 volts through it,” Dep. Fire Chief Robert Cameron confirmed to local media. Residents were left without power through the night and continued to experience patches of outages on Wednesday as Eversource made repairs and eventually restored power to the areas that had been affected. The damaged tractor-trailer was towed from the scene by police.
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes said that it was fortunate nobody was injured in all the damage but the driver is now facing charges that include operating under the influence of alcohol, and leaving the scene of a crash after causing property damage. McClellan was arraigned Wednesday in Chelsea District Court. With the damage to the truck, neighborhood witnesses and footage of the semi crashing into the transformer being captured on video by a city surveillance camera, it’s a tough case to defend. However, McClellan’s attorneys are trying their best to argue that he has an otherwise clean driving record and was lost in an unfamiliar place and on medication during the time of the crash.