Police seek charges against Rothbury man in connection to severed gas line at Wesco

April 9, 2015

Grant Twp FDBy Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

ROTHBURY — A 33-year-old Rothbury man could face charges of “operating while intoxicated and/or reckless driving,” said Lt. Craig Mast of the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office, following an incident at the Wesco convenience store on Oceana Drive Wednesday night, April 8, in which a natural gas line was severed.

Both the Wesco store and the Rothbury Tavern across the road were evacuated, said Grant Township Fire Chief Roland Brooks.

A report has been forwarded to the Oceana County Prosecutor’s Office for review, Mast said, to determine what charges the suspect will face.

Grant Township Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 9:24 p.m. to a report of a severed gas line caused by a reckless driver who fled. The driver hit two cement pillars and a natural gas meter, severing a two-inch pipe, Brooks said. There was a gas leak on the south side of the building, and Winston Road was closed on the east side, the chief said.

The wind played a key role in keeping residents safe, Brooks said. “If the wind had not been blowing, there would have been trouble,” he said. “The wind was blowing the fumes to the west.” Residents to the west of the scene were notified they may have to evacuate, but evacuation was not necessary for those residents, Brooks said.

DTE Energy (formerly MichCon) was called to the scene to shut off the gas, Brooks said. The fire department was dispatched to return to the scene at 10:30 p.m. when a leak was discovered below the shut-off, he said. Firefighters cleared the scene the second time shortly before midnight.

Oceana Drive remained open to traffic during the incident, the chief said.

As of mid-morning Thursday, April 9, the gas remained shut off, although the store was open for business, Brooks said. “It’s still not hooked up — they are still without gas inside the building.” Brooks said he assumed it had not been hooked up yet due to the heavy rain. The store was closed Wednesday night for approximately two hours due to the emergency, the chief said. No one was injured in the incident.

Both reckless driving and operating while intoxicated are six-point driver’s license violations, Mast said, that result in serious license sanctions. The suspect could also face civil liability for his actions, he added.

The suspect’s name is not being released pending arraignment.

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