FALL BRANCH — Several hundred feet of power line clipped by a low-flying helicopter fell across Interstate 81 Wednesday evening, clogging traffic for nearly 14 miles for over two hours.
Ironically, the aircraft was owned by Air2, a company based in Timonium, Md., that provides line transmission aerial service support and maintenance to power companies.
Steve Bradley owns the field and surrounding property where the helicopter pilot safely landed his aircraft just after 4:30 p.m. after striking the line. The pilot was trying to avoid some low-lying fog that had formed over the valley near mile marker 53 in the Fall Branch area.
A helicopter landed along Interstate 81 near mile marker 53 in the Fall Branch area of Washington County about 4:20 p.m. today, according to radio transmissions.
The emergency landing brought down large power lines, possibly in both directions, and forced traffic to back up on I-81. Authorities soon reported that I-81 S had been shut down. Transmissions also indicated that the helicopter came to rest in a field at the end of Hale Road in a dead-end section near the highway.
The power lines reportedly remained live.
A Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman reported at 4:53 p.m. that northbound lanes of I-81 remained open but both southbound lanes were shut down.
One of the southbound lanes had reopened as of 7:30 p.m. and traffic was reported to be moving slow, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Keep visiting JohnsonCityPress.com for details as they become available.