Band causes blackout


Courtesy Photo

After the band’s trailer hit a light pole in Allen, power to the Allen stadium was lost, trapping people in an elevator.

Olivia Griffin, News Reporter

On the evening of Friday, October 11, the school’s band trailer hit a Fairview electrical pole, knocking out power at Allen’s Eagle Stadium for forty-five minutes before a major game and leaving the Leopard Band without instruments for their competition the following day.

“As the trailer was making a turn onto Highway 75 it clipped either a telephone pole or an electrical pole,” band director Jeff Jahnke said. “The trailer normally leaves ahead of our buses so we did not see what actually happened.”

The pole struck was the source of power for Allen Eagle Stadium, a massive $60 million facility that has received national attention for being the most expensive high school football stadium in the nation.

According to Anna Kurian, a representative of Oncor Power Company, the power went out around 5:45 p.m. when a power pole at the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and Stacy Road was accidentally knocked out. The pole was repaired almost immediately following the crash.

Lasting about forty-five minutes, the power outage occurred about an hour before the Plano East-Allen varsity football game and left thousands of fans waiting in the dark and seven people, including three Plano East coaches, trapped inside an elevator dangling between the third and fourth floors.

“There was a big jolt, all the lights cut out, and then the lights came back on,” radio broadcaster Thomas Lee, who was trapped inside the elevator himself, said in his radio broadcast later that night.

Though smart phones had no signal inside the elevator, one of the occupants had an older flip phone with service that allowed the occupants to reach the outside world.

Fire-and-rescue teams managed to evacuate the stranded riders, all of whom were uninjured, and the game still managed to start on time.

“It was very Die Hard-esque,” Lee said, recalling that the firefighters removed a ceiling panel, lowered down a ladder, and pulled the occupants out of the elevator.

The Eagles went on to defeat the Panthers in a 62-17 blowout victory.

The next morning, while en route to a UIL Competition at Clark Stadium in Plano, the band trailer was pulled over by police and not allowed to continue to its destination due to damage from the previous night, leaving the students without their instruments until moments before the band was set to perform.

“The band students reacted very professionally when we found out what happened,” Jahnke said. “We put together a plan for a couple of our staff members and parents to go and rent Penske box trucks and meet us where the semi was parked. I took a bus with our student leadership team members to unload equipment from the trailer and then put that equipment on the trucks that we had rented. The trucks met us at the contest site and the band was able to perform.”

Due to a damaged tire and paint damage to several of the doors, the band trailer was out of service for several days.

“The band trailer was repaired to a point that it was safe for use last week,” Jahnke said. “We only had to work around this obstacle on that one contest day. Since then things are back to normal for everyone.”

The band went on to receive a Superior rating, the highest possible accolade.

“We had quite a few obstacles but things worked out very well,” Jahnke said.