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DUI driver takes out power pole
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A late model BMW is checked out by Manteca fire fighters after it caused a power outage at the corner of North Fremont Avenue and Sierra Street. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin

Neighbors were complaining about a motorist who had been driving recklessly around their homes prior to his crashing into a power pole on Fremont Street at Sierra Avenue at 10:15 p.m. Friday.

Manteca Police officers said the driver, Christopher Paradela, 26, of Manteca, was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence after splitting the pole in two pieces. That also caused hot power lines to be downed across the roadway. The accident blocked and cut power to 14 nearby homes. The power pole landed across the top and rear of the late model red BMW causing major damage.

A resident a block away came forward saying he felt his house shake due to the crash and walked over to check on the seriousness of the scene.

A transformer atop the pole fell to the ground on the impact as it caught fire and caused dry grass next to the home to burn. Children in a back bedroom were quickly ushered into the back yard by their parents — Stephen and Denise Sparalino who had been watching a movie in their living room. Firefighters were hampered by the transformer and the several charged lines that stretched across the street as Fremont was blocked off by police.  The couple said some 50 of their neighbors gathered in a semi-circle across the street watching as firefighters and police addressed the incident.

No one in the home was injured during the mishap. The driver was transported to a hospital for observation in a police car. PG&E crews worked most of the night to restore the lost power by replacing the wires.  They were on the scene until mid-morning hours on Saturday.