Las Vegas Sun

July 24, 2014

Power Lineman Killed in Storm Aftermath; $1/2 Million in Damage

A 25-year-old Nevada Power Co. lineman was electrocuted yesterday as an aftermath of the sudden, freak storm that ravaged the Las Vegas area Saturday night and caused the near-death of another power company man.

Billy Faulkner of 11 Arizona Way, Henderson, died at 9:25 last night in Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, where he had been taken by the Mercy Ambulance after suffering third-degree burns through gloves and trousers from a live wire while on repair duty.

Funeral services were pending at Bunker Brothers Mortuary. He is survived by his wife, Lona, and three children.

Don Fabbi, 27-year-old power company employee who suffered widespread third-degree burns when a radio tower collapsed on the building in which he was working during fierce gusts Saturday, still was reported in critical condition in the county hospital.

Meanwhile, Las Vegans surveyed a debris-littered town and a half-million dollars' property damage yesterday following the savage storm with high "tornado-like" winds and huge hailstones that racked up the community from one end to the other.

The fabulous Strip was especially hard-hit by the sudden fury of the storm, which blasted down virtually all of the big signs in the plush resort area and tore part of the roof off of the Dunes hotel.

Near-panic reigned at the Stardust Drive-In Theater as its tin fence was cut to pieces by the onslaught and moviegoers ran over speakers with their cars in their haste to escape pieces of the sharp metal brown through the outdoor cinema with great force.

No injuries resulted, miraculously, but some auto windshields were broken by the "shrapnel" and a drive-in spokesman told the SUN that about 25 damage suits have been threatened.

A 50-year-old dealer, John Italiano of 5000 Jean Ave., was leaving the Stardust Hotel parking lot when the storm "hit like a tornado," ripping a power cable loose so that it fell around his car. Petrified as sparks blew all around him, Italiano luckily was uninjured, jumped out of the car after the sparks subsided and saw that the auto's windows were shattered and its body seared.

Lamb Blvd. was washed out in places by the deluge accompanying the winds and hail, but U.S. Highway 91 South was okay and power lines torn down near the Tropicana Hotel were up again yesterday, according to Deputy Russ Anderson of the Clark County Sheriff's Department.

A 138,000 volt line serving Mercury and Jackass Flats was out. Power Company officials said a 69,000 volt line was put in as an emergency measure.

Art Lurie, general manager of Market Town, reported that the store was closed for several hours Saturday night because of the storm. Power was restored, however, at about 2. a.m. Lurie said that this was the first time the store has been closed since its opening in 1955.

The storm also knocked a portion of the roof off at the Jackpot motel at Second St. and Wyoming Ave.

North Las Vegas was also hard hit. The entire old town section of the community was darkened from the time the storm hit until power was restored at 3:30 a.m. yesterday. Casinos and clubs along Main Street were blacked out.

Also knocked out was the power in residential areas between Five Points and College Avenue and from Main Street to the railroad tracks.

Power was knocked out for several hours at the Las Vegas SUN, but it was resorted in time for the presses to roll for Sunday morning's paper.

Power was off last night on the west side of the Strip from the Dunes Hotel to the Hacienda Hotel, power was also knocked off in the area bounded by Bonanza Rd., Highland Ave., Tonopah Ave. and Charleston Blvd. Crews from California, Boulder City and other areas were helping the power company here last night to restore power. Service was expected to be back to normal by Tuesday.

Many hotels still were without power late yesterday, however, Anderson said, as crews struggled to get other lines back in operation.

Dozens of homes and businesses in Las Vegas had roofs ripped off and/or windows broken by the winds, which had gusts up to an estimated 80 mph and hailstones in some cases as big as golf balls.

Trees were torn down or had branches broken off all over town and hail smashed windows of autos, including police cars.

Doors were torn off Devine Storage and Moving Service at 418 W. Mesquite, according to City Police Sgt. Paul DeWeert.

DeWeert said police had a hard time locating merchants in many cases, as usual, because of lacking up-to-date night numbers.

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