Alleged impaired driver hits power pole

Parts of east Medford go dark as utility crews work into night to restore electricity

A Phoenix man was arrested on driving under the influence charges Monday afternoon for crashing into an east Medford power pole, cutting off electrical service to about 1,000 customers and darkening a portion of Siskiyou Boulevard well into the night, authorities said.

Gray Smith, 21, was driving a 2005 Mercedes-Benz sedan west on Siskiyou Boulevard about 3:17 p.m. when the vehicle inexplicably swerved off the roadway and sheered the Pacific Power pole, causing a transformer to explode and leaving the pole dangling from the overhead lines, according to the Medford Police Department.

When police officers found Smith at the scene, he exhibited signs of being under the impairment of a narcotic, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. He failed field-sobriety tests and was later analyzed by a drug-recognition expert, Budreau said.

Smith was cited and released on charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, recklessly endangering another and second-degree criminal mischief, police said.

A man and woman who were passengers in the vehicle were unhurt and not arrested, Budreau said.

Meanwhile, Pacific Power customers along Barnett Road, Center Drive, Crestbrook Road, Appleton Circle and East Main Street lost power, according to Tam Gauntt, a spokesman for the utility. All but 300 homes had their power restored by late afternoon as Pacific Power crews worked into the darkness to fix the damage.

A stretch of Siskiyou Boulevard west of Bear Creek Park remained blocked to vehicle traffic late Monday to give crews room to work.

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