MTA Worker Arrested for Causing Elmont Blackout

A LIPA repairman inspects damage in Elmont (LIPA photo)
A LIPA repairman inspects damage in Elmont (LIPA photo)

An MTA electrician allegedly stole a construction truck, raised its boom and drove around ripping down electric wires in Elmont, knocking out power to more than 6,000 homes and businesses, officials said.

Nassau County police arrested Joel Grasman, but charges are pending. A police spokeswoman said the suspect had stolen the Mack truck from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Jamaica Avenue yard early Tuesday morning.

“Peoples’ meters were ripped right off of their homes,” said Mark Gross, spokesman for the Long Island Power Authority. “This guy did a lot of damage in a short amount of time.”

Police said Grasman caused the one-man wave of destruction by driving southbound on Mecham Avenue, eastbound on Dutch Broadway and southbound on Corona Avenue before he was stopped.

The boom snagged overhead wires between poles and houses, transformers and downed poles, Gross said. He added that LIPA crews have been called in from across the Island to help restore power, although there is no estimate on how long that will take.

“It’s going to be a very labor intensive day,” he said.

An MTA spokeswoman said the 51-year-old suspect has worked for the transit agency for nearly 24 years, adding that the agency “will take proper disciplinary action once the investigation is completed.”