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A pair of traffic accidents just two or three minutes apart, two miles east of Decatur on US 224 on Tuesday afternoon, injured no one, but damaged both vehicles, broke three power poles, and knocked out electrical and cable television service for a large number of people.
The back-to-back incidents at 224 and County Rd. 300 East began at 1:55 p.m. when Trent D. Busse, 21, rural Decatur, was driving a pickup truck and pulling a wood chipper device. He said he did not immediately see a vehicle stopped ahead of him on the highway and operated by Ethan M. Conrad of rural Decatur. Conrad was waiting for traffic in the other lane to go by so he could turn onto 300 East.
When Busse realized that Conrad's vehicle was stopped, he swerved into a ditch to avoid a collision and hit an American Electric Co. (AEP) pole, a sign owned by Union Chapel United Methodist Church, and a stop sign at 300 East.
That initial accident caused some power lines to hang lowly across the highway and, two or three minutes later, a tractor-trailer truck driven by Dradlee L. Vanderlinden, 32, New Sharon, Iowa, hit the lines. Vanderlinden said he did not see them.
The second accident apparently pulled the power lines so much that two other AEP poles broke and also caused Mediacom cable TV lines to break. A CenturyLink telephone junction box was also damaged.
Several power and TV lines were down at various places around the intersection and traffic on 224 was stopped until the lines could be removed, then traffic was limited for a few hours while repairs were made by crews from Indiana and Michigan Power and by Mediacom.
By 4 p.m., 10 I&M and Mediacom service trucks were at the scene, plus three police cars (two from the sheriff's department and one from the Decatur police), and two vehicles from local wrecker firms.
Combined damages were estimated at $5,000 to $10,000.
A telephone call to I&M's Fort Wayne offices this morning for information on a power outage around the time of the wreck and another outage early this morning was sent to an operator in West Virginia. The newspaper was told by that operator that the Fort Wayne offices no longer take calls from the media.