JCP&L cites faulty cable for Thursday outage; Morristown policeman recovering from traffic injury

"Safety" manhole cover installed in Morristown, March 2013. Photo: JCP&L


A Morristown police officer is recovering after being struck by a vehicle Thursday night, while directing traffic at the site of an electrical failure that knocked out power for nearly 900 Jersey Central Power & Light customers, including Morristown Medical Center.

Officer Dennis Bergman, treated and released by the hospital, “was in some pain last night. Thankfully, it did not appear anything was broken,” Morristown Public Safety Director Michael Corcoran Jr. said on Friday.

Bergman, a 14-year veteran of the force, was struck by a 2017 Toyota Camry at 7:20 pm on South Street at Madison Avenue. The driver, Harold Kofman, 43, of Morristown, has been charged with careless driving.

Smoke had been seen coming from a manhole cover near the intersection around 5:47 pm, said JCP&L spokeswoman Jennifer Young. The failure of an underground cable left 894 customers without electricity.

Within 90 minutes, power was restored to all but 25 of them.  At 8:22 pm, the hospital came back online, along with everyone else, Young said.

Hospital spokesman Rob Seman said the hospital had partial power from JCP&L, supported by backup generators, over a period of about two hours. “There was no impact to patient care,” he said.

Several years ago, Morristown’s downtown was plagued by underground electrical fires, power outages and exploding manhole covers. A motorist was injured in 2011, state authorities rapped JCP&L for failing to maintain the network, and the utility began upgrading the system.

“We have seen good results from that work and reliability of the system is much improved. We continue to meet quarterly with local leadership and the BPU to discuss ongoing maintenance and reliability enhancements,” Young said.

The JCP&L spokeswoman added: “While we do routine inspections of our underground vaults and equipment, sometimes unexpected equipment issues do occur. The cable fault last night is not indicative of a larger issue with the Morristown network.”

This story was updated to add comments from a hospital spokesman, and additional comments from JCP&L.

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  1. 2nd power failure and fire along that line in last few weeks. This is not an isolated problem, just poor management by JCPL.