Downed pole leaves over 2,600 in dark, wellness center employee in elevator

WHITE HALL – A power pole between East Baldwin and East Hoadley roads snapped about 3 p.m. Wednesday just outside the Pine Bluff Arsenal here, leading to a wide-spread electrical outage that continued until around 5 p.m.

Entergy Arkansas spokeswoman Sally Graham said from her Little Rock office that the incident tripped a breaker and led to a failure with “a piece of equipment” in a nearby Entergy substation.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association (MECA) said there were no injuries related to the outage.

At one time, some 2,616 Entergy customers were without power, Graham said. By about 4:25 p.m., that number had been reduced to about 1,100 as electricity was being rerouted.

The area affected by the outage ranged from Highway 365 near Pinto Road to the north, southward to the intersection of Frontier Lane and Overland Trail, eastward along Jefferson Parkway to McFadden Road, and westward to beyond Sassafras Road’s intersection with Gravel Pit Road. Much of White Hall was within the area.

When the power failed, a woman working at Jefferson Regional Medical Center’s White Hall Wellness Center became trapped in an elevator between the facility’s two floors. Emergency Medical Technician Bill Beadle of Emergency Ambulance Transport Inc. (EASI) heard emergency radio traffic on the woman’s plight and went to the scene, where he helped in releasing her after she had spent about 30 minutes in the elevator. The woman then returned to work.

Beadle, who did not know the woman’s name, said the elevator was “brought down slowly” as hydraulic fluid was released from its motor. He was then able to unlock the elevator doors to free the woman.

Preliminary reports indicated that the power pole snapped after being struck by a car, but the MECA spokesman said he was unaware of any vehicle being involved in the incident and Beadle reported he was certain that the pole snapped on its own.