Lake County Sheriff’s deputies and Fox Lake FPD firefighter/paramedics responded about 5:00 PM Friday August 25, 2017 to a report of a rollover crash with injuries at 28400 block of West Brandenburg Road Ingleside, IL. Police and firefighter/paramedics received a report that a single-vehicle crash involved a rollover. On arrival deputies and firefighter/paramedics discovered a Subaru upside down near a utility pole down with occupants out of the vehicle and a brush fire starting from arcing power lines.
A boy and girl, both age 16, escaped the vehicle while it was on its roof before emergency responders arrived. The two Fox Lake teens escaped without any initial injuries reported.
According to Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Covelli, a preliminary investigation found that two vehicles left the Volo Bog nature preserve at high speeds. A 16-year-old Fox Lake boy was driving a Subaru south on West Brandenburg Road with a 16-year-old Fox Lake girl passenger. Also, a 16-year-old Lake Villa boy was driving a Chevrolet south on the West Brandenburg Road.
According to Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Covelli, “They appeared to be racing each other.”
The teen driver of the Subaru lost control of his car while navigating a sharp curve and struck a utility pole. The force of the crash cracked the utility pole, dropped live power lines, and ignited a brush fire that grew to engulf about one acre.
Firefighters cautiously waited for ComEd to shut power to the immediate area before completely extinguishing the fire, but the fire was mostly under control before ComEd arrived.
The teen driver of the Subaru was cited for street racing and failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
The teen driver of the Chevrolet also was cited for street racing.
The citation for street racing is a Class A misdemeanor. Class A is the most serious of A, B, C, D misdemeanors, and can carry a sentence similar to lesser felonies.
Paramedics and Lake County Sheriff’s deputies released the Fox Lake teens to their parents at the scene.
Fox Lake Fire Protection District firefighters advise citizens to wait for rescuers to survey the scene and plan a safe extrication operation when live power lines are involved.
Of course, people in a vehicle may have to assess the danger themselves when fire is advancing and there is a downed live power line, but there is a high risk of electrocution during exit when a live power line is contacting a vehicle. See the video from Puget Sound Energy below for safety tips regarding exiting a crashed car with fire threat while a live power line is on the car. IMPORTANT: Not all live power lines show arcing, smoking or humming warnings.
Two electricity principles in vehicle crashes with live power lines are very important to understand: Touch Potential and Step Potential.
It’s best to stay in a vehicle if there is a downed power line on the car or nearby, but what if the car is about to be consumed by fire? (1) Jump out of the vehicle, landing on both feet together to prevent simultaneous contact with the vehicle and the ground, which would cause electrocution. (2) Starting with feet still together, begin very short shuffling steps and exit the danger area at least 35 feet to prevent electrocution from simultaneous stepping in areas of significant electrical potential difference(SOURCE: Puget Sound Energy).
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