Van rollover injures driver, knocks out power in six towns

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Workers stand by the base of the pole that was sheared off by the van. Chester Police photo

A rollover on Tuesday afternoon left the 73-year-old driver of a van with minor injuries after his car sliced a utility pole that knocked out power to 1,400 Green Mountain Power customers across six towns.

Chester Police Chief Tom Williams said that John G. Johannesen III, 73, of Chester, was heading north on Route 103 and failed to negotiate the curve opposite the entrance to Green Mountain Union High School. His car left the roadway, went down an embankment and hit a utility pole next to Legion Drive, snapping it off, Williams said. Johannesen’s 2014 Chrysler Town and Country van then rolled over onto its passenger side, trapping him within.

Chester Fire Chief Matt Wilson called the work of police, fire and ambulance “a great team effort. Chester Fire photo

Fire Chief Matt Wilson said his crew stabilized the wreck and cut a portion of the roof off the van to extricate Johannesen, who was turned over to a Chester Ambulance crew, which took him to Springfield Hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Wilson called the work by Chester fire, police and ambulance “a great team effort.”

Williams said the incident caused a small grass fire and noted that a number of civilians including some from the high school helped with keeping people away from the scene and directing traffic when responders were working to get Johannesen out of the van.

Green Mountain Power crews work to restore power just after 5 p.m. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

“The operator was given a warning for failure to maintain his vehicle on the travel portion of the roadway,” said Williams.

Around 4:45 p.m., Kristin Kelly of Green Mountain Power said, “Crews are working as quickly as safely possible to replace a main line pole and restore power to 1,398 customers in Athens, Chester, Grafton, Rockingham, Springfield and Townshend.” She said that crews expected to complete their work and have power back on by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Power was restored around 6 p.m., according to the GMP Outage Center.

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