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NMBPD: Drunk driver snaps power pole, leaving thousands in the dark

Rickey Lee Watkins. (Credit: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)

A large power outage was reported in the North Myrtle Beach area Tuesday night.

According to the Santee Cooper power outage map, a little over 600 people were without power as of about 10:30 p.m., down from 10,963 customers earlier Tuesday night.

The outage spanned from North Kings Highway/US 17 Bypass and 2nd Avenue South to Little River Neck Road and Inlet View Drive and from the Little River to Ocean Drive.

Santee Cooper officials said the power was restored overnight.

According to the City of North Myrtle Beach, a driver in a car crashed into a utility pole on Little River Neck Road "impacting high tension lines." A Santee Cooper crew was is working to make repairs.

City officials say the crash was caused by a DUI driver, who is now in police custody. The driver was identified Wednesday as Rickey Lee Watkins, 58.

Watkins crashed a white van into a power pole, snapping off the top, according to city officials. Witnesses reported seeing Watkins fleeing the scene on foot towards the Palmetto Shores subdivision. Responding officers were able to track him down and take him into custody without incident.

Field sobriety tests were administered, which authorities say Watkins failed. He was taken to the hospital where a blood test was taken; results of the blood draw are pending.

The crash scene was cleared by 11 p.m. Tuesday. Santee Cooper crews continued working on the damaged lines at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Police are directing traffic at the site.

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