KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — Rita Harold grabbed her keys, walked out the door and then locked it. She was headed to the grocery store with a friend when she looked over at her car parked in the driveway.
“We were getting in (her) car when I looked up and said 'look,'” said Harold.
There was a big wooden power pole on the ground next to her car. The pole was laying by the back end of the car. At first Harold noticed the pole and what appeared to be pieces of glass next to it. Her eyes then focused on her car and what was an extensive amount of damage.
“It (power pole) fell on the back of the car, hitting the back, tearing up some inside,” said Harold.
The back window was shattered, and part of the frame was crumpled. The pole also busted the back-tail lights and flattened one of the tires.
“I need it (the car), I need it bad,” said Harold.
The next day Harold called Duke Energy and told them one of its poles fell on her car. The power company immediately had a crew out to remove the pole and started an investigation. The pole was an old pole that hadn’t been hooked up for several years.
After a couple weeks, Duke reached back out to Harold and denied her claim.
“I politely told them you own the pole, it has your number on it,” said Harold.
On a fixed income, Harold doesn’t have enough money to pay for the car to be fixed and certainly can’t afford to buy a new one.
The fact that Duke denied the claim was both confusing and frustrating to Harold.
“It has made it very hard on me,” said Harold.
She now must rely on friends to drive her to and from appointments and errands. Several times Harold has had to cancel doctors’ visits because she can’t find a ride.
“I called them (again) and said I want payment for the damage on my car,” said Harold.
With Duke adamant that it would not pay for any repairs, Harold reached out to 2 Wants to Know for help. Our volunteers reached out to Duke in hopes of learning why it denied the claim. It appears there was some initial confusion as to who owned the pole and if another company was servicing it.
After speaking with News 2, Duke agreed to re-open the case. After digging a bit deeper, the power company confirmed it did in fact own the pole and that no other company was using it. The pole was not only old, but it had not been used by any company for several years.
“We looked further into this situation and determined that we did make a mistake because this pole should have been pulled years ago,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Meghan Miles.
The company agreed to pay Harold $4,500 to cover the cost of the damage and any inconvenience the situation caused. It also apologized for the confusion at first and denying the initial claim.
Harold is still trying to decide what kind of car to get with the money but knows one thing:
“Calling News 2 was the right thing to do,” said Harold.