CHP: Suspected drunken driver crashed into utility pole, leading to major SMF delays

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Days before Christmas, there were massive delays at Sacramento International Airport after officials say a suspected drunken driver hit a utility pole.

Over the weekend, long lines at the airport caused passengers to wait for hours.

"We had a line cutter that offered us $100 but we didn't accept it," said a traveler name Joni. "It’s complete chaos, honestly."

The problems at the airport started at Del Paso and Power Line roads Saturday night. AT&T said the airport lost internet connectivity when a car crashed into a utility pole along the country road.

It forced airline employees at Southwest and Delta airlines to write out boarding passes by hand and check luggage manually. Hundreds of delayed travelers were stuck at SMF for hours Saturday into Sunday.

At first, the California Highway Patrol was not sure what crash was to blame.

“So we just did a little investigation to determine what collisions in the area might have caused any sort of outages on power lines and/or electrical lights,” said CHP Officer Greg Zumstein.

It took officers a while to figure it out because the CHP said the Saturday crash did not stand out.

“It’s not an unusual call. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual,” Officer Zumstein said.

They soon narrowed it down to a report involving a vehicle hitting a utility pole, knocking it over. Arriving officers said the woman behind the wheel was under the influence of alcohol.

“The driver was under the influence of some sort of alcoholic beverage and was arrested subsequently for that purpose,” Zumstein said.

She will be charged with driving under the influence. The CHP would not release the name of the drunken driver.

It took up to two days for the airport to return to normal operations.


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