Cherry picker downs power lines, closing Route 161

Posted Nov. 29, 2011, at 11:38 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 30, 2011, at 1:09 p.m.

ST. JOHN PLANTATION, Maine – A 39-year-old crane operator who apparently did not realize that he had pulled down utility wires onto Route 161 was summoned Tuesday for operating a vehicle beyond structural height.

State police Sgt. Brian Harris said Tuesday night that at about 2 p.m. that day Martin McBreairty of St. John was driving a self-contained crane, commonly known as a cherry picker, southbound on Route 161. Harris said the basket on the crane had not been lowered sufficiently and snapped the telephone and electric wires strung across the road as McBreairty drove past.

McBreairty apparently was not aware that the wires had been pulled down and continued driving toward Fort Kent.

The falling wires, however, struck a 2001 Dodge truck driven by Lezime Thibeault of St. John. Thibault was not injured, but the wires damaged two antennas and scratched the truck’s paint, Harris said.

Harris said that Trooper Rob Flynn was on his way to the accident scene when he met the crane and realized that the too-high basket must have knocked the wires down.

Maine Public Service was contacted and responded to the scene to repair the power wire, which was still live. The roadway was closed to traffic for approximately an hour while repairs were made to the wire and reattach it to the pole.

McBreairty was driving a crane owned by Robert McBreairty and Sons Trucking and was summoned a short time after the accident.

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