RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Forest Hill Avenue is now back open after a man crashed into a fire hydrant following a police chase in Richmond, leading to a water main to break and shutting down lanes over fears the road would cave in.
Officers tried to stop a car on Forest Hill Ave. near 47th Street around 11:35 a.m., but they say the driver sped off instead. Police say the man sped off so quickly, officers stopped their pursuit. Moments later, he struck a street sign and a fire hydrant, leading to a foot chase and his arrest. No one was injured.
Police have charged James R. Ross, 28, with reckless driving-speeding, suspended operator's license, misdemeanor eluding and felony eluding.
The crash into the hydrant sent vibrations into a 6" water main and caused it to break in two separate sections. Richmond Public Utilities noticed buckling when heavier vehicles drove by and closed Forest Hill Avenue eastbound over concerns the road could cave in from heavy loads.
"For the safety of the workers and fear of the road caving in due to heavy traffic and buses, we are closing the eastbound lanes of Forest Hill," said a release from the Department of Public Utilities.
The leak had previously closed one lane of eastbound traffic from the 4500 to 4800 blocks of Forest Hill Avenue and led to around 50 customers losing water.
"Hopefully, they'll be able to fix it soon and get it running," expressed Mohammad Mahdawri, the owner of Davinci on 47th. As his restaurant prepared for dinner service, they were running on reserve water.
"The water has been off for a while, I do have some reserve. I hope it lasts long enough. If not, we'll have to shut down when I run out of my reserve," he said. "In a situation like this, the customers and neighborhood understand."
His employees were working when the crash happened. They were able to catch the arrest on camera.
Around the corner, Thomas Matousek's wife was home at the time of the crash.
"She didn't know, she was in the shower. Obviously, she had just put shampoo in her hair, and the water went out. She couldn't run outside to see what was going on," said Matousek.
Crews with the City of Richmond and a subcontractor worked double time to get the issue fixed. It is a time-consuming process, as they have to dig through the asphalt to find the line. A pump is then used to remove any standing water so they can see the damage.
They worked for nearly a dozen hours to fix the issue and get water running to customers.
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