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MARTA bus driver falls asleep, crashes into utility pole, causing power surge

By Harry Samler

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    ATLANTA, Georgia (WANF) — A MARTA bus driver fell asleep while driving one of her routes and crashed into a utility pole, causing a power surge into a homeowner’s residence.

MARTA officials confirmed the crash that happened on July 11 around 7:30 p.m., and sent power surging through Valerie Daniel Walker Jones’ home in historic Collier Heights.

“I thought the house was about to explode,” Jones said, adding she didn’t know what happened until her two grandsons told her to look out the window.

MARTA said the driver was going down a curved hill on Collier Road when she fell asleep. The driver crossed the center line, hit a utility pole at the edge of Jones’ yard, where it came to a stop. No passengers were on the bus.

Jones said the bus driver apologized and admitted she’d fallen asleep.

MARTA is taking full responsibility for the accident.

The day after the accident, Jones contacted Atlanta News First Investigates because, she said, Georgia Power told her it could not reconnect power because of the extensive damage. That day’s heat index was near 100 degrees.

“They told me the earliest they could come out here was early next week,” Jones said on July 12.

MARTA officials sent a disaster relief specialist to her home shortly after she spoke with Atlanta News First Investigates. It approved a hotel for Jones, and later approved an airBNB.

Electricians said Jones’ house needs to be rewired, with initial estimates at more than $25,000. MARTA officials said the agency is deeply sorry about the incident and will pay all of Jones’ expenses.

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