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Columbia internet outage caused by crash from police chase involving minors


A chase with law enforcement on Thursday night led to an internet outage for some schools and other northern Columbia buildings on Friday.

Two juveniles were in a car chase Thursday night with Boone County Sheriff deputies when they crashed into a utility pole on Oakland Gravel Road near Vandiver Drive, according to Cpt. Brian Leer.

Leer said the Columbia Police Department had previously tried to stop the vehicle twice and that it was involved in an earlier crash. Deputies saw the vehicle near Thornberry Drive and Oakland Gravel Road and pursued. No injuries were reported.

According to Leer, the driver lost control of the vehicle on Oakland Gravel Road near Holly Avenue and hit two utility poles.

City Utilities Spokesperson Matt Nestor said the utility pole broke, impacting power and fiber lines. He said city crews began working on repairs around 1 a.m. Friday.

"It's a whole new pole that they had to put up," Nestor said. "... That means digging a hole in the ground, hoisting up the pole, getting it set and then they can transfer the wires from the old pole over to the new pole."

He said power was restored around 7 a.m. Only 3-4 people were without power.

The larger impact was the loss of internet access. ABC 17 News saw city workers on scene Friday morning, and Nestor said crews were still working on fiber line repairs around 2:30 Friday afternoon. Nestor said it is not the city's fiber, but rather a service provider that has its lines on a city pole.

Four Columbia Public School buildings were affected by the internet outage. Spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said the buildings affected were Battle High School, Battle Elementary, Two Mile Prairie Elementary and the district transportation facility.

The first alert was sent from the district in a text message at 6:25 a.m. stating the internet was down at the bus facility. The district said it still had communication with the bus drivers as they are "operational without internet/phones."

Baumstark said the primary impact was the phone system, which requires internet to work. She said parents were notified with an alternate contact phone number.

In an email, she said service was restored to CPS around 12:30 p.m. and classes were not affected by the outage.

"The impact to classroom learning was minimal," Baumstark said. "One of the great things about our schools is the ability to be flexible in unexpected situations and to make the most of the challenge at hand."

Meanwhile, Columbia Fire Department Station 4 is located on Oakland Gravel Road, right next to where the crash occurred. Firefighters told ABC 17 News they were using a backup generator Thursday night and into Friday morning due to their phones, internet and power going out.

CFD Assistant Chief Jeff Heidenreich said there are always backup systems in place.

"We have a lot of redundant systems in place to make sure that no matter what happens, we're always ready and available to respond," Heidenreich said.

He said the backup generator at the station kicked on immediately when the power went out, and there are always two layers to the dispatch system. One form of communication uses the internet, while the other comes over the airwaves and can operate without internet.

"They were able to operate and respond to emergencies and communicate with the rest of the department and the emergency system just like any other day," Heidenreich said.

Firefighters at the station said their services turned back on about 10:30 Friday morning.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Erika McGuire

Erika McGuire originally comes from Detriot. She is a reporter and weekend anchor on ABC 17 News.

Madison Stuerman

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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