Car Thieves Cause Power Outage

At approximately 1:30 p.m. on December 8, police officers and first responders in Willow Springs responded to a rollover crash at Center and Seventh Streets. According to Asst. Chief Wes Ellison of the WSPD, a red Chevrolet Impala crashed into a power pole and landed on its roof. One male subject was still in the vehicle; this man was extracted without incident and transported to Ozarks Healthcare. 
The crash occurred in a densely populated neighborhood, and there were no shortage of witnesses. Fortunately, no bystanders were injured in the crash. Police received multiple reports that the driver of the vehicle fled from the scene on foot. Witness statements produced several suspects.
Further investigation revealed the car, which belongs to an employee of a downtown restaurant, had been stolen from the parking lot behind the Willow Springs Public Library earlier that afternoon. Two male subjects drove it recklessly until it crashed, knocking down a utility pole. A search of the vehicle at the scene of the crash revealed no drugs or weapons, but only a small amount of alcohol, Asst. Chief Ellison said. 
The subject who was still in the car when authorities arrived was Brandon Kuhlman, 30, of Willow Springs. He had active warrants for drug charges, and was arrested in West Plains on the evening of December 8 after his release from the hospital. Formal charges of possession of stolen property are forthcoming. 
Investigation into the identity of the driver eventually narrowed to one suspect who is known to the WSPD, but police are not releasing specific information at this time. As of press time, charges have not been filed against the driver.
Sergeant Mike Huffman is heading up the investigation, and Officer Ben Bishop was on the scene as well. Troop G assisted, with Troopers Barron, Cunningham, and Kenyon present. 
EMT Stephanie Bennett was not on duty that day, but lives nearby and performed first aid on Kuhlman before other first responders arrived.
The crash caused a power outage for nearly a quarter of electricity customers in Willow Springs. The damaged utility pole was not an ordinary line providing power to the surrounding area, but rather a power main supplying electricity to around 450 customers. The cost of the damage to the City of Willow Springs was approximately $2,800, reported City Administrator Beverly Hicks. Electric department workers had to replace the pole, wiring, and guide wire. 
The power outage affected addresses up and down Center and Harris Streets and on Main Street down to Walnut. Businesses, residents, and the school campus were out of power for about an hour that afternoon. 
Because the line was a main, Hicks said after workers made sure the electric line was safe all the way from the crash to the substation, they secured the pole overnight with a bucket truck and tackled the task of a permanent repair on Wednesday, December 9 to restore power as quickly as possible.
The investigation is ongoing, and updates to this story will be published as they become available.

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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