Downed power line traps woman in car

November 27, 2009 5:54:28 PM PST
When high winds downed power lines in Pacifica Friday afternoon and one woman's quick thinking probably saved her life.

Nancy Neilson was driving along the 1400 block of Palmetto Avenue near Highway 1 when a live power line fell onto her car.

Neilson had just left a nearby beauty shop when she heard the 12,000-volt line drop onto her car with a loud bang.

"It was really windy and I heard something hit my car; I thought it was a tree or something, at least until I saw the sparks," Neilson said. "I thought I was driving away from it but then I realized my car had hooked onto it so I stopped and turned off the engine and I called 911."

Neilson kept her cool and heeded the advice of the 911 dispatcher, as well as police and fire fighters who told her not to get out of the car. The rubber tires acted as an insulator; she could have been electrocuted if she had tried to jump out of the car.

Neilson said she had recently seen a similar situation on a TV show, so she knew what to do.

"We were lucky on this one; the tires had begun to melt on the car and we don't know if the occupant would have been able to jump from the vehicle," North County Fire Authority Battalion Chief Bob Trapp said.

Fire fighters were able to safely rescue Neilson from her car once PG&E cut the power to the line.

The downed power line briefly caused a outage in the surrounding area.


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