Accident was 'a close call'

Two Pike Electric Inc. employees are happy to be alive after a close call Tuesday afternoon.

Mark Smith, 49, and Greg Roten, 41, were working on power lines on Sherrills Ford Road at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Smith was in the truck's bucket, while Roten was stationed on the ground, surrounding the Pike Electric truck.

N.C. Trooper S.R. Lineberger said Benjamin Hildebran, 23, of Sherrills Ford, was driving a black 1985 Ford truck traveling north on Sherrills Ford Road. Hildebran ran off the right side of the road and hit the left corner of the Pike Electric truck. Lineberger said Hildebran was experiencing diabetic problems, which caused him to go off of the road and cause the accident.

Smith said he was lowering the bucket to prepare to get out for a drink of water, when he heard squealing tires.

"I dropped down in the bucket as soon as it hit," Smith said. "(The impact) moved the truck 8 feet."

Smith said the Pike Electric truck was secured with outriggers, which follows procedure when electric employees are working on power lines using the truck.

Roten said he was in the spot where the truck hit only seconds before the impact occurred.

"I moved right before it happened," Roten said, adding if the accident would've been any sooner, Tuesday would not have been a good anniversary present for his wife.

Roten and Smith were thankful circumstances weren't worse.
"If the basket would have been up, (the impact) would have thrown me out," Smith said.

Hildebran was transported to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center from the scene, after being extradited from the truck. He is in stable condition.

"I hope he's OK," Smith said. "We are OK."

Lineberger said Hildebran was wearing a seat belt, and there were no signs of drugs or alcohol being involved.