By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An Atmore woman escaped serious injury Tuesday, March 5, when her car inexplicably ran off Swift Mill Road and hit a natural gas line before skidding to a stop in a shallow ditch.
Details were sketchy by Tuesday’s press deadline, but a witness said the driver of the BMW 323Ci apparently was either distracted or driving too fast when the vehicle went into the curve just west of Swift Supply, around 8:30 a.m.
The luxury sedan slammed into the welded-metal guard that protects the gas line, rupturing the line and sending gas hissing into the air, then slid to a stop a few yards away. The car also reportedly snagged an Internet service cable and shut down online access to residents of the surrounding area.
Kenny Smith, general manager of West Escambia Utilities, said WEU employees shut off the feeder line to the area, preventing or strongly limiting any more gas from escaping.
Smith said the utility company would not be able to dig down and search for the rupture in the line until ascertaining just how many various utility lines were buried near the WEU gas line, and their location.
The as-yet-unidentified driver was not injured, although the mud-splattered Beemer sustained significant damage to its driver’s side. The car’s front fender was ripped off and landed in the middle of the roadway, and pieces of the fiberglass chassis were scattered around the wreck site.