NHP: Cattle truck ran red light
March 11, 2014
Stateline resident George Jaqua was headed toward Kingsbury on Tuesday afternoon when a 2013 Peterbilt hauling 66 head of cattle struck the right front of his Subaru Forester as he was passing through the intersection at Waterloo Lane and Highway 88.
Stockton resident Grant T. Terpsta, 25, was hauling the cattle from Yerington to Escanlon, Calif., when he failed to stop at the red light, hitting Jaqua's Subaru, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
That 3:53 p.m. accident set in motion a series of actions that affected thousands of Carson Valley residents.
One witness was northbound on Highway 88 when the accident happened. She said she saw a blue flash when the truck hit the stoplight's control box, before it sheared off a power pole and tipped over on its side, killing 25 cows.
Jaqua's Subaru was knocked into the northbound lanes of Highway 88. Injured, Jaqua was flown from the scene to Renown Regional Medical Center. According to the Nevada Highway Patrol he had nonlife-threatening injuries.
The power pole was one of the new ones installed by NV Energy to increase the electric capacity supplied to the Gardnerville Ranchos.
The accident knocked out power to 2,377 customers in Minden and the Pleasantview neighborhood west of the Gardnerville Ranchos. The traffic light at Mottsville and 88 was lying next to the truck in a field. The light at the intersection of highways 395 and 88 was affected by the outage, as were businesses and facilities along that corridor. The Douglas County School Board was in session at Douglas High School when the lights went out. The board adjourned at about 5 p.m. because they were concerned that the recording equipment might not last the entire meeting.
The Carson Valley Swim Center closed while the power was out, while the Douglas County Public Library remained open, though without Internet access.
An NV Energy crew was wrapping up work near Centerville less than two miles from the scene when the accident happened.
A lineman was up on a pole de-energizing the power lines before the first cow could be removed from the back of the truck.
Power company spokesman Karl Walquist said the crew was able to bypass the damaged pole and restore power to all but three of the customers affected by the outage. By 6 p.m., the light at 395 and 88 was back in operation.
Bently Ranch Manager Matt McKinney was called to help deal with the surviving cattle.
Rather than open the carrier gates, rescuers cut a hole in the top of the carrier using a frontloader. The first cow ran from the truck about 10 minutes after the accident, and was herded into a nearby field.
It would be another six hours before the accident was cleared and Highway 88 reopened. Four portable stop signs control traffic at the intersection until the traffic light can be replaced.
Terpsta was cited for failing to obey a traffic signal.