A medical emergency led to an SUV crashing into Neligh's substation on Sunday afternoon, but residents and businesses didn't go without power long thanks to the generation plant.
According to the Antelope County Sheriff's Department, Joshua Doorlag, 24 of O'Neill, was traveling westbound on Highway 275 in a 2009 Ford Escape when the medical episode occurred.
Doorlag traveled through the entrance of Riverside Park and between the Cowboy Trail and Neligh Economic Development/Chamber of Commerce office before crashing through the substation fence. The substation is located between the Economic Development/Chamber office and Neligh Mill along 2nd Street.
Sheriff's Department officials said neither alcohol nor speed was a factor, and it did not appear seat belts were in use. The driver's side airbag and side curtain airbag did deploy in the accident.
No citations were issued and Doorlag was transported from the scene to Antelope Memorial Hospital by the Neligh Rescue.
City of Neligh Superintendent Dean Bly said a section of the community's power was immediately effected by the crash. Electrical employees Brian Hain and Scott Kester responded to the scene immediately and shut off power to the rest Neligh, which allowed emergency personnel to assist Doorlag. Personnel could not approach the scene until power was off.
"While emergency personnel worked at the scene, our guys went to the generation plant and started working to get that fired up until we could get back online," said Josh Capler, generation supervisor.
Once the scene was cleared, Kester said power was restored to Neligh by 3:45 p.m. via the generation plant. NPPD brought a portable substation to Neligh and switched it over around 12:30 a.m. Bly said Neligh will run on that for several days until a new transformer can be installed.
"Without the generation plant, Neligh would have been without power from 3 p.m. until about 1 a.m.," Bly said.
Although the generation plant is tested monthly and has been used in regular maintenance situations with the substation, Bly said this was the first true emergency situation that required using the station.
"The generation plant fired up just like it was supposed it to, the motors work great and everything went just like it should," he said. "And our guys handled the situation very well and very professionally. They were on the phone with the convenience stores, nursing home, assisted living and others last night making sure they knew what was going on with the power."
Bly, Capler, Kester and Hain were on scene of the substation until the early morning hours ensuring the community had power. During the afternoon, the men also battled a brief storm that dropped pea-size hail as they worked on the substation and fence.
Bly said there will be another short outage when the switch is made from the portable substation to the substation in a couple of days. He said the City of Neligh will communicate with residents and businesses about that planned outage.