BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Redmond truck driver was cited on a felony hit-and-run charge Wednesday after an excavator he was towing with its boom up pulled down power lines, broke off a power pole and caused lines to fall across Highway 97 north of Bend. That sent a guy wire smashing into a car’s windshield and seriously injured the driver, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said.
Deputies were dispatched around 2:45 p.m. to the reported hit-and-run incident on Highway 97 near milepost 131, Sgt. William Bailey said.
Initial information was that a truck towing a backhoe had hit a power line, which brought power lines down onto another vehicle, Bailey said. The truck and backhoe last was seen heading north on the highway.
The driver of the silver Audi, Joseph Zimmer, 64, of Bend, called 911 dispatchers to report he was injured and called for medics to respond to the scene, the sergeant said.
An “attempt to locate” was broadcast for the suspect vehicle and Redmond police and Oregon State Police assisted in the search. About a half-hour after the incident was reported, an OSP trooper found the suspect vehicle, a white International dump truck owned by the Central Oregon Irrigation District and pulling an excavator, near the Redmond Airport on Southeast Airport Way, Bailey said.
An investigation at the scene determined the truck, driven by Stuart Keyte, 55, of Redmond, pulled onto Highway 97 from a side road near milepost 31 with the excavator’s boom extended upward. The truck caught power lines, which broke off a power pole and caused the lines and guy wires to fill across the highway.
A guy wire struck the hood and windshield of Zimmer’s car as he drove south, causing serious but non-life-threatening injuries, Bailey said. Zimmer was taken by ground ambulance to St. Charles Bend, where a house supervisor said he was in good condition Wednesday night.
Bailey said the investigation “determined (Keyte) was aware he had hit the power lines with the excavator, but left the scene anyway.” He was issued a criminal citation for a felony charge of failure to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons.