St. Charles Herald-Guide

Killona mother forced out of home for 2 weeks after 18-wheeler hits power pole

Kyle Barnett - April 27, 2013

A woman and her two daughters were without electricity for two weeks after an 18-wheeler tore down the power line in front of their home and damaged their electric meter and hookup.

Shenitra Smith, who lives on Killona Avenue in Killona, said right before 6 a.m. on March 21 a truck owned by Con-Way Truckload Company ran into and tore the power line down in front of her home.

She said a neighbor had to chase the driver down before he stopped.

"We were in bed asleep and woke up to this," she said. "He left us to burn down."

Smith said she thought the incident would be taken care of quickly through the truckís insurance provider or through power provider Entergy, but it dragged on and left her unable to stay in her home for more than two weeks.

"I have a 7-month-old and a 9-year-old," she said. "We have to sleep wherever. My children deserve to sleep in the privacy of their own beds at night in the privacy of their own home. Itís totally ridiculous."

According to a St. Charles Parish Sheriffís Office report, the driver of the 18-wheeler got lost due to improper GPS coordinates and accidentally took the narrow residential street before striking the overhead power line, which resulted in Smithís property damage. The driver was cited for being in violation of weight and size limits for a truck not providing service in the area, but the truck was found to be under the height limit for power lines.

Because the truck was below the height limits, Smith said the trucking companyís insurance adjuster refused to pay any damages caused to her property.

"They sent an insurance adjuster," she said. "He came to my property and did not tell me he was coming out there. I figured heíd call me and meet me out there."

According to Smith, the adjuster found that Entergy was at fault for hanging the power line too low, but when she called Entergy they said it was up to her to replace the damaged meter and power hookup.

"Con-Way is telling me that itís not their drivers fault," she said.

Doug Rhodes, Entergy customer service manager, said when property damage occurs to a homeís electric hookup it is not the energy providerís responsibility to repair it.

"The meter pan and the pipe that the wire goes down and the knob that our wire connects to the house – that all belongs to the customer," he said. "As soon as they finish repairing that we can turn the power back on."

Rhodes said he has been through similar situations in the past and it is up to the truck driver to look out for what is above them.

"She needs to get the information and whoever is the owner of the truck is responsible," he said.

Without Con-Way or Entergy willing to take responsibility for the damages, Smith said she has had to fix the problems herself and is now trying to get reimbursed, which may end up with all of the parties in a lawsuit.

"Who determines who is responsible?" she said. "If that is the case Iíll go after both of you and in court find out who is responsible."

Smith said the incident had nothing to with her being at fault, but she has had to pay the price.

"What I do know is about the inconvenience of me being out of my home for 14 days for something I didnít have anything to do with," she said. "We were in bed asleep and woke up to this. It is beyond me and nobody wants to step up to the plate and take responsibility."

Con-Way did not respond to a request for a statement on this article.