Police: Drunk driver's crash caused power surge

WEST NORRITON, Pa. - February 7, 2012

"We heard a pop and you could actually visibly hear almost like a little explosion," resident Al Barth said.

Worse, Melissa Miller in the unit block of Galbraith could smell something burnt.

"I could smell burnt plastic and rubber and I looked at the wall, it just caught the center of my eye, I just saw the wall all charred up and I called PECO and the fire department to make sure that my house wasn't going to catch fire," Miller said.

Fortunately, for Miller, she had a surge protector on her circuit box that protected everything in her home. But others without such protectors lost a number of appliances.

"We lost our dishwasher, we lost our oven, the GFI downstairs is pretty burnt and it was pretty scary," resident Rob Snyder said.

Al Barth lost two flat screen TVs and DiLeo's Auto Service lost its computer system for its gas pumps

"We need power supply parts and some of that stuff isn't really in stock cause it's not a common thing to really go bad," Bob Novey of DiLeo's Auto Service said.

What they did not know at the time is that according to West Norriton Police, the surge was caused when the driver of a 2009 Chevy Impala crashed into a power pole at the intersection of Burnside and Chestnut avenues.

Police later charged 36-year-old Eric Gutowski of Norristown with DUI and related offenses.

The obvious question is who do people who lost items because of the surge turn to now to try and get reimbursement?

The short answer is to contact PECO either on line or by phone requesting to file a claim.

"Depending on the cause of the surge will depend on whether or not PECO is liable to compensate the customer. If it's something that's out of PECO's control, the company would not be liable, but we will help the customer to identify the liable party," PECO spokesman Bob Armstrong said.

And for future reference, it may also be a good idea to invest in power surge protectors just in case.

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