This Monday morning crash closed a section of Croton Avenue between Cascade Street and Crawford Avenue, and left about 1,155 Penn Power customers — including the Lawrence County courthouse and the New Castle Area School District Administration building — without power.

The driver of an SUV that sheared off a phone pole and caused a widespread power outage Monday morning was Zebuliah J. Bartley of 182 Halltown Road, Wampum, according to a police report.

According to the report, Bartley told the officers at the scene that the steering wheel of his Chevrolet SUV had malfunctioned and he lost control of the vehicle while traveling east on Croton Avenue around 9 a.m.

Police reported that when Bartley hit the utility pole near Vine Street, it knocked down a second pole, wires to about five houses and destroyed two transformers, which leaked mineral oil onto the street. 

The accident knocked out electrical service to 1,155 customers in New Castle, including the entire Croton area, plus 71 customers in Hickory Township. A cavalcade of about 10 Penn Power trucks and workers responded to the area to replace poles, wires and transformers and to clean up mineral oiled.

The outage forced the closing of the Lawrence County courthouse and related buildings for the rest of the day. The power was restored and the road reopened to traffic by around 2 p.m. 

New Castle fire chief Mike Kobbe said that according to a fire department report, Bartley's vehicle went left of center and hit the pole on the opposite side of the road. 

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