Buddy J. Mongiovi was watching Super Bowl LII when his cellphone sounded and began to vibrate. It was his weekend on call, so as halftime approached, the Peace River Electric Cooperative service technician geared up and climbed into the driver’s seat of his bucket truck.
“The dispatcher told me a member called and saw a flash on the line,” said Mongiovi. “That knocked out power to about 300 members, so I drove over to the district office to meet my partner and we headed out to fix the problem.”
It took about two hours for Mongiovi and Kegan Kieffer, probationary line technician, to reach the location in Nalcrest, Florida, where they repaired a blown lightning arrestor and replaced a downed neutral line. When the two men tried to drive to a substation to close the circuit, they had a problem.
“It had been raining, and the truck had sunk into soft mud on the edge of the roadside ditch,” said Mongiovi. “I had Kieffer wait for help, and I went across the highway to try to hitch a ride.”
Wearing his yellow PRECO hard hat and other safety gear, he used his flashlight to flag down a passing motorist. A couple of co-op members offered him a ride.
“This older couple stopped and agreed to take me a mile up the road so I could finish restoring power,” said Mongiovi. “They were returning to their retirement community after watching the Super Bowl, and I was glad to hear Philadelphia won.”
After being dropped off at the substation gate, Mongiovi quickly closed the circuit and restored service.
“We may not have saved the game, for our members, but we did get service restored in time for them to see the highlights,” Mongiovi said. “In my 32 years with PRECO, I’ve met a lot of members who are more than happy to help out if it means we can get power on more quickly.”
With their power restored, members also got a chance to see NBC’s much-anticipated episode of the popular television series This is Us, explaining the death of character Jack Pearson.
“We always try to restore service as quickly as possible to keep inconvenience to members to a minimum,” said Mark Sellers, a spokesman for Wauchula-based PRECO. “Buddy was thinking about a way around problems with the stuck truck, and he got some help from members who appreciate what we do.”
Derrill Holly is a staff writer at NRECA.