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Woman left with more than $4,000 in damage after car hits downed light pole on DuSable Lake Shore Drive

Woman says her car hit downed lamp post on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, causing thousands in damage
Woman says her car hit downed lamp post on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, causing thousands in damage 02:31

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago woman said she was left with thousands of dollars in damage to her car after it hit a downed light pole in the middle of DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

As CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot reported Wednesday, Stacy Sweat said she and her husband were driving north on the Drive just north of 31st Street around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30. All of a sudden, she noticed something didn't seem right.

"In front of us, there was a few cars pulled over - but we weren't sure what that was," Sweat said, "and the next thing you know, we hear a big bump and we're bumped over something - and we look over and there's a big light pole, laying across the middle of Lake Shore Drive."

Supplied to CBS 2

Sweat said her husband drove their black 2011 Lexus on two flat tires to get to the nearest exit and off the Drive - only to meet another couple with one flat tire and a similar story.

"They had hit the light pole too," she said.

Sweat filed a police report. Her Lexus was left with more than $4,000 in damage.

"When you drive in the country, they always warn you about a deer coming out of nowhere – but who would have thought a light pole would come out of nowhere and you'd run over it in the city?" Sweat said.

We counted at least four downed poles on northbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive from Oakwood Boulevard to 31st Street - along with several orange traffic cones covering exposed wiring where light poles were once in place.

Taking a closer look, our cameras captured significant rust on the length of the light poles and at the bases.

"I think Chicago should take a look at this," Sweat said.

Professor Sammy Tin, the department head of the Materials Science and Engineering Program at the University of Arizona, agrees with Sweat.

"These poles are definitely in need of some maintenance and inspection to ensure that the degree of rust is not compromising the structural integrity of these poles," he said.

Tin looked at photos of the light pole Sweat says her husband and others ran over. Tin said based on the photos we sent him, he can't determine how it came down.

The professor has been out with the CBS 2 Investigators for the past several years now, looking at light poles in the Chicago area.

"Aging infrastructure is a real big problem - not just in Chicago, but throughout the country," Tin said. "It's a multitrillion-dollar problem."

We reached out to the Chicago Department of Transportation to get their comment about the rusted light poles we found and to see what the plan is to repair them. We were still waiting to hear back late Wednesday, and we will keep you posted.

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