Las Flores accident almost darkens Super Bowl Sunday

A Southern California Edison crew on Sunday works to repair a pole and equipment destroyed on Saturday when a driver crashed into the pole and a parked car on Las Flores Canyon Road. Power was out from 11 p.m. Saturday until 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Photo by Arnold G. York / TMT

Approximately 270 homes and businesses were without power for nearly 16 hours after a car slammed into a power pole. Authorities believe the driver who caused the incident was intoxicated.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Residents living on and around Las Flores Canyon Road nearly missed the Super Bowl and the owner of Malibu Country Liquor lost business on one of his biggest days when Southern California Edison was forced to turn off the power to repair a pole and equipment destroyed in a vehicle collision on Saturday. Malibu Lost Hills Sheriff’s deputies said the driver, Malibu resident Steven Peterson “appeared very intoxicated.” He could be charged for the repairs and the Malibu Country Liquor owner is planning to sue Peterson for business losses.

Sgt. Phil Brooks said the collision occurred at approximately 4:40 p.m. Saturday when the northbound traveling Peterson, 62, drove his 2004 BMW X3 over the double yellow lines and into the pole and a car parked directly across the street from The Malibu Times building on Las Flores Canyon Road.

“He was probably going too fast, which caused him to lose control, and hit the pole that hard,” Brooks said.

Peterson, who could not be reached for comment, was taken to West Hills Hospital, but his only injury was a small laceration on his shin, Brooks said. A blood test was taken to determine if he was intoxicated. The results should be available in approximately 30 days.

Peterson’s car sustained “major damage,” Brooks said. The parked car had “minor sideswipe damage.” The pole did not fall to the ground, but it was damaged, as was the equipment on it, which includes a circuit breaker that protects power in the area.

Mark Olson of Southern California Edison said a crew arrived at the scene at 11:30 p.m. Saturday to replace the pole and repair the equipment. He said the length of time from the collision to the arrival of the crew occurred because the situation was not considered a high priority since the crash did not cause a power outage.

However, the crew had to turn off the power for at least 268 customers in the area so it could do the repair work. Power was restored at approximately 3:30 p.m. Sunday, just before the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl. The street was closed to traffic during most of the repair time on Sunday. The crew completed the job Monday.

Olson said Peterson could be liable for the cost of the repairs. He said the price tag could go into the thousands or possibly tens of thousands.

“They’re not inexpensive, that’s for sure,” Olson said. “It’s lots of manpower and equipment working on emergency status to fix the pole and the equipment. Normally we will go after the driver or the insurance when a vehicle hits a pole. We turn it over to our legal department.”

Peter McKellar, owner of Malibu Country Liquor on Pacific Coast Highway near Las Flores Canyon Road, said he also plans to seek compensation from Peterson because he estimates he lost approximately $3,000 worth of business.

“It ruined the day,” said McKellar, whose store remained closed throughout the power outage, depriving him of the alcohol and snack sales on the biggest day of the year for those items. “And the perishables are [destroyed] because of the warm temperature … Somebody needs to compensate me for that.”

McKellar said by the time the power went back on, “the day was shot.”

He said he contacted an attorney, but he is out of town. Once the lawyer returns, “we’ll go from there,” McKellar said.

But the longtime store owner, who also lives within the power outage area, admitted this was not as bad as it gets.

“Fifty years in this town, it’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me,” McKellar said.