Car crash halts power and classes

by Jess Hoogendoorn

Students got an unexpected holiday on Tuesday when a car careened into a utility pole on Route 206 shutting down power on the Lawrenceville campus.
Harold Grant II, 24, of Wrightstown struck the pole at 12:35 p.m. south of the Lawrenceville campus’s main entrance, crushing the front of his car and damaging the utility pole, according to an article published in The Times of Trenton.
The accident created a hazardous condition and Lawrence Township Police had to shut down Route 206, according to Vickie Weaver, director of Rider’s Department of Public Safety. Public Safety officers helped divert traffic through campus until 206 was reopened.
After further investigation, it was found that the transformer behind Van Cleve House was damaged, according to Weaver. The house was evacuated as a precaution.
At 3:12 p.m., PSE&G cut power to campus to make repairs. All remaining afternoon and night classes on the Lawrenceville campus were cancelled.
According to Mike Reca, associate vice president of auxiliary services, the accident resulted in pulling wires out of the transformer that powers the Lawrenceville campus. Since it was a PSE&G pole and was on Route 206, the company took responsibility for the repairs, said Reca. PSE&G was able eventually to replace the damaged transformer.
“We were lucky they had one nearby,” Reca said.
However, before the damaged transformer could be replaced, all of the power had to be shut down and then diverted through the other, undamaged transformer.
About 13,000 volts power the Lawrenceville campus and one transformer could not handle this alone, so any use of power that was not deemed absolutely necessary had to be terminated.
Power was temporarily restored at 5:30 p.m. but was turned off again around 3:12 a.m. for final repairs and so that the new transformer could be fully installed, said Weaver. Power was fully restored by 5:20 a.m. and the university resumed full operation, said Weaver.
The process took time because the power company’s workers needed to be methodical in their repairs.
“It’s very dangerous when you are dealing with that kind of power,” Reca said.
Reca congratulated his facilities staff on the execution of their jobs during the outage. The staff worked through the night and made sure power was diverted, generators were working and everything was in order, said Reca.
Resident advisors (RAs) also had to make sure the residence halls were in order during the black-out. The course of action varied from building to building, but in Poyda the RAs were required to stay in the building and patrol inside and outside every 15 minutes.
“We had to do rounds and go around hallways to let everyone know what was going on,” said Zarif Islam, a Poyda RA.
The RAs knocked on residents’ doors to give them updates about when the power would be back on and when it would be turned off again. They also patrolled the halls to ensure that no vandalism was occurring.
The Poyda staff did not have any problems to report, but it was important to keep everything in check because when the lights go out students seem to think it is an excuse to party, said Islam.
Senior Jackie Day was in class when the lights went out.
“I was in macroeconomics doing gross domestic product equations,” Day said. “The lights went out and at first [the professor] thought it was just the classroom, but then she looked in the hallway. We just had to finish our equations and we could go, [so] I went back to my room and took a nap.”

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