Thousands of customers woke up in the dark Tuesday morning after a bucket truck that was apparently stolen from a Metropolitan Transportation Authority facility pulled down wires and power poles in Elmont.
The incident occurred around 4 a.m. along Meacham Avenue.
Residents were awakened by huge booms as the truck took down trees, power lines and traffic signals over a one mile-stretch.
“It sounded like he was hitting cars. I thought he was hitting all the cars on my block,” one man told CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown. “I got a 2-year-old car so I ran outside and I saw wires down all over my car, tree branches all over the car, all over the neighborhood. Total chaos.”
“There was a series of explosions last night like something out of a ‘Frankenstein’ movie,” another man said. “Earlier the lights were flickering on and off and just as I came outside they went off for good and I started hearing this stuff blow up. It was eerie.”
“It’s unbelievable…one truck could do this much damage,” a witness told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
The damage is comparable to a major storm and will take days to repair, officials said.
The driver, identified as 53-year-old Joel Gassman, fled the scene and eventually pulled over near the Southern State Parkway where he abandoned the truck and ran, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.
Police chased Grassman on foot and placed him under arrest. Charges are pending.
Grassman, who is an electrician for NYC Transit, was stealing equipment from a yard in Jamaica and took the bucket truck to get away, police said. At some point he raised the boom and drove off.
LIPA officials said the truck took down distribution and transmission lines, leaving roughly 6,000 customers without power at one point.
Crews are on the scene and all power is expected to be restored Tuesday morning, LIPA spokesman Mark Gross said.
Nassau County police said Dutch Broadway, North Fletcher and Meacham Avenue are closed due to downed power lines. Exit 15 of the Southern State Parkway also is closed to traffic.
The cause of the incident is under investigation.