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Crash injures Petaluma bicyclist, closes Point Reyes Road

A man who crashed into a power pole after trying to pass a group of bicyclists on Point Reyes Road was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

The 9:10 a.m. accident just south of the Sonoma County line closed the key access road to western Marin County all day as crews tried clear and repair the live power lines that crossed the road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Joseph Fechter, 34, of Point Reyes Station was driving his 2008 Toyota Prius west near Hicks Valley Road when he came upon three bicyclists. He tried to go around the group, but sideswiped Rusk Whipps, 52, of Petaluma. Whipps was able to continue riding and suffered only minor injuries.

But Fechter swerved back into the westbound lane and continued to swerve back and forth before crashing into a power pole, splitting it in two, the CHP said.

The top of pole snapped, causing live power lines to fall onto the roadway. The bicyclists tried to stop but one, 48-year-old Michael Ban of Petaluma, crashed into the downed pole, suffering moderate injuries.

As Fechter was being treated for minor injuries at a local hospital, a CHP officer interviewing him noticed signs of impairment and arrested him.

The road was closed about 1 mile east of Novato Boulevard and remained so 12 hours after the accident as PG&E crews continued their work.

<i>EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Joseph Fechter was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, according to the CHP. The story has been updated.</i>


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