Thousands of Long Island residents lost power last night after an MTA employee allegedly stole an MTA bucket truck and knocked down a bunch of trees and power lines in Elmont because he didn't know how to operate the thing. It's a strange story, and an MTA spokesman tells us this is still an active investigation, but other MTA sources tell ABC that "a longtime employee" stole the truck sometime around 4 a.m.:
53-year-old Joel Grassman took the truck from one of its facilities, apparently during a failed attempt to steal welding equipment. When Grassman could not figure out how to get the welding equipment into his personal car, he decided to steal the truck instead.
It is not clear if he knew how to operate the truck, since he left the crane portion up as he drove through the residential neighborhood. Numerous poles, wires, trees and even a traffic light were knocked down onto cars on both sides of the street.
Grossman, an MTA electrician who has previous arrests including a 1985 bust for criminal possession of controlled substance and DWI, tried to flee after crashing the truck for the last time, but police chased him on foot and apprehended him. Elmont residents described the incident as "total chaos," and one local told CBS 2, "There was a series of explosions last night like something out of a ‘Frankenstein’ movie. Earlier the lights were flickering on and off and just as I came outside they went off for good and I started hearing this stuff blow up. It was eerie.”
At one point, an estimated 6,000 residents lost power. Full power is expected to be restored by noon. High five, Grassman.