Martha’s Vineyard residents obeyed driving ban – for the most part

At noon, Saturday, Main Street, Vineyard Haven was quiet. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

As the blizzard began to wind down Saturday morning, police and public safety officials reached by The Times reported that in general, Islanders complied with the driving ban and stayed off the roads. In several incidents, drivers who ventured out at the height of the storm put themselves and emergency responders at risk.

The Tisbury Fire Department was busy through the night helping Emergency Medical Service responders.

The most serious incident occurred on State Road just west of Camp Street at about 12:30 am Saturday, when a branch fell and took down a power line that landed on top of a car.

“The limb came down with the wire right across the front of the car,” Fire Chief John Schilling said. “But Nstar was very quick on that one, fortunately.” Mr. Schilling said he had no idea why the people involved were out driving at the height of the storm.

Chief Schilling said his department responded to eight to 10 calls over the course of 12 hours.

“We dispatched our rescue truck with the ambulance to give them assistance with access,” he said. In one instance, the ambulance was unable to reach a house in a heavily wooded section of town. The rescue truck was used to ferry the patient to the waiting ambulance.

Mr. Schilling said trees and branches fell around town, particularly in the Mink Meadow area where the main lines are located, and that affected power around the Island.

“Nstar’s been hopping,” Mr. Schilling said. “There’s no question. The heavy wet snow was not a friend to us.”

In Edgartown, five young people out driving slid off the road and ended up in the Katama airfield. The driver will be charged with violating the driving ban, Edgartown Police Chief Tony Bettencourt said.

Reached at the Edgartown station, Sergeant Craig Edwards said, “All in all people have been pretty good about staying off the roads. Now that the winds are dying down, we just have to let the highway department do its job.”

In West Tisbury, Sergeant Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter said drifting snow presented the biggest problem. He reported one arrest. At 8:40 pm Friday, police responded to a report of a 1999 Ford Explorer that had skidded off the road in the vicinity of Nip N Tuck Farm on State Road. Police arrested the operator, Jason Canha, 40, of West Tisbury for operating under the influence of alcohol, Sergeant Manter said, and transported him to the Dukes County Jail.

In Chilmark, Detective Sean Slavin reported “nothing out of the ordinary,” for a winter storm.

The power outage affected police computer systems in Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. Saturday, day shift officers in the two towns were unable to provide many details about the previous night’s events.

Reached late Saturday afternoon, Tisbury Sergeant Chris Habekost said police made no arrests. “The night was busy with power outages, trees down and other storm related events,” he said.

Sergeant Habekost said police assisted emergency rescue crews following a report of a tree limb and power line down across a vehicle. Nstar arrived immediately and shut the power. “It was a lot less serious than it first sounded,” he said.

The unidentified driver was not hurt. “They removed the limb and power line and she drove away,” he said.

In Oak Bluffs, officer James Morse told The Times there were no arrests and no major incidents. “Everyone was pretty well behaved and stayed off the roads,” he said.