God's Hand on Highway 27


If you were down at the Demolition Derby on Saturday night, sheets of rain and pea size hail caused concern. 
Many left, others hunkered in their vehicles wondering if it would pass. 
Information came in waves. The stoplight was out. The railroad lights weren’t working. Electricity was out at random places like the Northrup theatre.
Then North of Syracuse, Highway 27 was closed. A wreck? Power lines down? What happened?
Sometimes we question certain situations as coincidence or miracles. Eva Birt, her daughter Rebekah and husband John Platt believe the incident they were involved in Saturday evening, July 16 at approximately 8:00 PM, was nothing short of a miracle. 
The three had been  visiting John and Rebekah’s son and family, Joshua, in Tribune. They headed home traveling south on highway 27. Eva was driving and they soon encountered heavy rain, so heavy they could not see where they were going.  
John told her to slow down and he guessed she was going about 20 miles per hour when all of a sudden they heard a grinding noise. Eva stopped, and through the pounding rain and lightning, they could see a broken telephone pole in front of them. 
“The electrical lines were over top of us, one was draped along the side resting between the windshield and mirror,” explained John, “We had gone underneath them!” 
Concerned about the live electrical lines on top of the vehicle, they remained still inside the vehicle, “But it was raining so hard getting out of the vehicle was not a temptation,” said Rebekah. 
John then called the sheriff’s department, reporting the incident and they dispatched emergency vehicles. The wind was out of the west and after about ten minutes they heard a mighty rushing wind and their first thought was a tornado was coming. 
But this is when they believe they witnessed one of the many miracles that night as the strong westerly wind shifted to the east, “Totally changed directions!” said Rebekah.
They witnessed the wind push the telephone pole, that was in front of them, off the road taking the wires off the car as it moved. “It was amazing,” said John, “It also took the passenger side mirror.”  
As the situation unfolded, they were still unsure where they were on the highway, or where they had stopped, due to the heavy rain. Thinking they might be able to go around, learning they were in the northbound lane, but through the lightning, they could see more lines down.  
Fortunately, there was no northbound traffic, but they soon found themselves at risk of a rear end collision. An approaching vehicle from the north was coming full speed in the still pounding rain. “We thought he was going to hit us and there was nothing we could do, but he stopped in time!” Said Rebekah, “Then another car come up and almost hit him.” 
“We did not want to move because we did not know what was around us,” said John, “One vehicle turned around and went north, but the other one waited.”  
The rain had subsided some when Wheatland Electric employee, Matt Riley, who had made his way to the scene via county roads, walked up to the vehicle to see if they were ok, and let them know it was safe to turn around because it was going to be hours before the road was clear. 
They then made their way back to Tribune and spent the night there with Joshua. He shared, “A thought went through my  mind, what if this is the last time I see mom and dad and grams.” He then offered a prayer saying well Lord I guess I’ll have to trust you with them.
Returning home Sunday morning, they determined they were about seven miles north of Syracuse, and counted 11 sections or 22 poles down, “We were stranded under the first fallen pole,” said John. 
“We did not think a lot about the severity of the situation until we got to church the next morning and Pastor Frank gave us a hug and explained the same thing had happened to some friends and they did not survive the incident,” said Rebekah. 
Eva said, ”I am grateful to God for His protection, His hand was on me.”
To the east of Zach and Amy Brucker’s home were  downed power lines as well. The Bruckers were thankful to the Wheatland Electric crew of Colton Green, Matt Riley, and Chris Oliver who worked to restore power at 1:00 AM!
Native Syracusan and Meteorologist, Matt Gerard, explained from what he could see on his radar app and with the heavy rainfall reports, it was likely a wet microburst. “There didn’t appear to be any organized rotation but there was a swath across your area that was favorable for heavier rain,” he said, “That storm really took off and became pretty loaded with precipitation and I also saw a forecast discussion from the office shortly after this talking about cold cloud tops, i.e. tall storms, that can come back down with considerable force! “The fact that poles were blown down in different directions would also support a microburst hitting the ground and spreading out in all directions.”
It was around 4:00 AM the next morning when Sunflower Electric had finally cleared the highway enough to open the road again.
Over a mile of high line poles had been snapped around road 13, seven miles north of Syracuse, and power lines laid across the ground.
All day Sunday, Sunflower Electric dug up and cleaned up the broken poles and the debris as well as putting up new poles. 
The important lesson here is DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE! CALL 911.
Hamilton County Sheriff Mike Wilson said, “It is so  important to stay in car or not get close to a downed power-line! They stayed in the car and had a great outcome but others may not know to do that. I believe a energized line will travel through the ground quite a ways. 
According to Wheatland Electric, “If you are in a motor vehicle accident and power lines are touching the vehicle: Assume it’s live.  Always assume that any downed lines are live and dangerous.  Do not attempt to touch or remove the wires and warn others to stay away.
Stay put.  Unless there is a secondary emergency, such as a fire, it is safer to stay inside the vehicle than trying to exit.
    Call 9-1-1.  Let the dispatcher know that you were in an accident and you have a downed line on your vehicle.  The authorities will contact the power company and line workers will be sent to the scene to shut off power.
 Warn others.  Witnesses may not notice the downed line and could be coming to help.  Warn them to stay at least 40 feet away.
A Kansas firefighter died after being electrocuted by power lines at a crash scene last year.
Morton County/Rolla firefighter Josh Schwindt was responding to a rollover accident, the Elkhart/Morton County Fire Department stated in an online post. While looking for crash victims, Schwindt came in contact with power lines damaged during the crash and was shocked.
He was given CPR and taken to the hospital, where the first responder died. 



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