Utility pole falls on man's car, company won't take blame

Utility pole falls on man's car, company won't take blame

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An Austin Energy light pole fell on Rick Luna's car causing thousands of dollars in damage.

"I'm a citizen. I pay taxes and it's only right for them to reimburse me," said Luna. "They came real quick that day and they didn't even let me get the serial number of the pole. They just grabbed it and took it."

Take a look at Luna's pictures from the scene on February 25 in south Austin.

"Luckily, it didn't fall down and hit some kids, or kill some kids," Luna said. "That pole was rotten. They're liable."

After talking to Rick and seeing some other questionable poles in the area, like this one, that's leaning over to one side, we had some questions for Austin Energy.

"The way it works is that by state law, governmental entities have immunity in situations like this," said Ed Clark, with Austin Energy. "We had about 60 power poles that were down by 50 plus mile per hour winds."

The pole crashing down on the disabled vet's car is considered "an act of God."

Clark said, "We do inspect our poles and make sure that those that are rotting or leaning are replaced."

"If I would have hit a telephone pole, I woulda had to pay for that telephone pole," Luna countered.

Clark said, "Individuals have taken us to court to see if they could collect for damages and they were not successful."

Rick doesn't have the money to take Austin Energy to court. He barely has enough to cover the $2,500 estimate.

"When I get my VA check I'm going to have to stretch it out," Luna said.

The car's not even two years old.

"It's their fault," Luna said. "If they would have taken care of the poles the way they should, this wouldn't have happened. I think they should replace more poles and come more often."

The average lifespan of a power pole is 30- 40 years.

Austin Energy could not confirm how old the pole was that fell on Mr. Luna's car. There are about 140,000 poles across the city.

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