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(Almost) a shocker: SUV goes up pole
PG&E crews made sure power stayed on for customers
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Manteca firefighters readjust vertical supports under an SUV after other emergency and city workers removed tree branches that were impaled on the front of the vehicle along with a sign pole. - photo by GLENN KAHL

A young motorcycle rider witnessed a dramatic crash on Union Road that sent an SUV onto a power pole guide lines shortly after 2 p.m. Monday and rushed to the aid of the driver and the unconscious passenger both trapped in their seats by the position of the vehicle.

Deryck Owens parked his motorcycle and jumped up onto the running board of the 2004 GMC Suburban. He opened the door with its added weight caused by the car being on a 45 degree angle and took the driver’s hand and helped her down to the ground.

Owens, a Calla High School graduate and a former East Union student who hopes to become a police officer, then went to help the passenger who was unconscious. He did his best to revive her.  

He is CPR certified but wasn’t in a position to do much except to keep trying to wake her up, he said.   Owens noted that she was out for about two minutes until the medics and firefighters arrived on the scene, adding that she didn’t completely regain consciousness even then.

It was the second time in the past several months that a vehicle has run up a guy wire while heading southbound on Union Road. The last incident was in front of the Manteca Golf Course where a pickup truck triggered a series of events that knocked power out to thousands of PG&E customers.

Owens recalled that both the ambulance and the first fire truck were on the scene within minutes – adding that they responded pretty fast from the time another witness made the 911 call.  Both airbags had been deployed by the impact that turned the front chrome bumper into the shape of a V.

Vertical steel supports were set in place under the vehicle by firefighters to prevent it from rolling off the cables while emergency responders were in the SUV attempting to treat the injured woman inside the some 9,000-pound vehicle.

Firefighters aided the passenger from the front and back seats readying her to be placed on a back board with a neck brace.  Firefighters Jeff Barr and Mike Loomis worked in the very tight quarters of the front seat lifting her onto the board and out the passenger door over eight feet in the air with the help of other firefighters on the ground.

Southbound traffic on Union Road was rerouted by police and the signals were put on red flashers to control the oncoming traffic flows.  Fire department emergency scene yellow tape was stretched around the collision site to keep interested members of the public from edging into the scene from the Raley’s parking lot area.

The single car crash occurred when the young woman driver was reportedly making a left turn from westbound Lathrop Road to southbound Union Road, jumping the curbing and shearing off a tree along with a four ton weight limit sign before running up the guy lines where the vehicle became lodged.

Witnesses said that employees from the nearby auto parts store also rushed out of their building when they heard the noise of the collision looking for ways they could help the women.

A large PG&E crane and a Manteca area tow truck from Aaron’s Tow worked together to free the vehicle that was finally lowered to the ground some two and a half hours after emergency responders first arrived on the scene at about 2:15 p.m.

The PG&E crew was careful in removing the vehicle out of concern if they did it wrong damage to the pole could occur with the prospect of knocking out several thousand Manteca power customers.