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UPDATE: Power restored in Chesterton after hit-and-run crash knocks out pole
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UPDATE: Power restored in Chesterton after hit-and-run crash knocks out pole

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Pole struck

A pole was struck by a vehicle in the 900 block of 11th Avenue in Chesterton. 

CHESTERTON — Power is restored around the town after a vehicle struck a pole Friday evening, causing a widespread outage for thousands, according to NIPSCO.

Around 7:05 p.m. first responders were called to a crash in the 900 block of 11th Street in Chesterton, said Chesterton Fire Department Chief John Jarka. 

A vehicle driving northbound crashed into a NIPSCO pole for unknown reasons and then fled the scene going north on 11th Street, Jarka said. 

The base of the pole snapped and the top half was hanging by power lines, creating a hazardous situation. The area around the damaged pole is blocked off to traffic.

The crash caused the Chesterton vs. Portage football game to be postponed.

Friday night lights out

After successfully making it to kickoff on Friday night, which hasn’t been a given this year, the Chesterton and Portage football teams suddenly were in the dark.

The power went out at Chesterton High School moments after the opening kickoff after the vehicle hit the utility pole.

“As soon as the lights went out one of our players said ‘Only in 2020,’” Chesterton football coach Mark Peterson said.

There was fleeting hope that the game would resume after a short delay, but once Peterson spoke to Chesterton’s electrician, it was clear there would be no game.

“We made some calls to our electrician, thinking it was a circuit that blew,” Peterson said. “You could see just the security lights on at our school and all the lights in the neighborhood were out.”

“It was a significant accident right down here at 1150 and Park,” Peterson added. “Within a half hour of it happening, NIPSCO still wasn’t out there.”

Once it was clear the game wouldn’t resume on Friday night, Peterson and Portage coach Terry Chestovich met to discuss rescheduling the Duneland Athletic Conference game. Both schools have a packed slate of sporting events during Saturday morning and afternoon, so the decision was made to play at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“Same bat time, same bat channel,” Peterson joked. “It was a good process (to reschedule). We got Portage involved and we made sure we made the right decision for both schools.”

Saturday’s junior varsity game has been postponed and will tentatively be played on Monday night at 6 p.m.

Thousands without power

As of 8 p.m., a total of 3,158 customers were without power in Chesterton, according to NIPSCO. 

For residents who live closer to Calumet Road and the Indiana Toll Road, power was expected to be restored by 10:30 p.m. Friday. For those who live closer to Interstate 94, power was expected to be restored by 2:45 a.m. Saturday, according to the utilities company. 

Police remained on the lookout for the vehicle that fled the crash site Friday night. 

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts and investigative news. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology. 219-933-4194, anna.ortiz@nwi.com

Paul Oren has been a correspondent reporter for The Times since 2005. A member of the United States Basketball Writers Association, Paul has spent more than 15 years covering Valparaiso basketball.

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