Traffic light falls from pole, damages passing vehicle (w/video)

Claudette Rosales considers herself a cautious driver.

"Oh my gosh. I'm 52 years old, and I have never in my life had anything like this happen to me before."

As Rosales was driving south on Navarro Street about 12:30 p.m. Thursday in her 2008 GMC Yukon, an overhead traffic light at Salem Road detached from its pole.

The metal signal housing crashed onto the front end of her SUV, frightening her and her 4-year-old daughter, Claressa. Neither was hurt, but they were scared.

"My first thought was that every airbag was going to go off," she said. She pulled over and calmed her crying daughter.

The housing damaged the Yukon's front bumper, dented its hood and its license plate and punctured its front grill.

"I try to be a cautious driver," Rosales said. "I try to be safe. ... You're told to be a cautious driver. You look to your left, and you look to your right, and now, you have to start looking up."

Hours later, Rosales tried to make light of the situation. However, her mind kept returning to how the outcome would have been different if the light had fallen a few seconds later.

The housing "would have smashed through my windshield," she said. "Or what if there had been a motorcycle?"

Those thoughts frightened her, she said.

But as the adrenaline faded, Rosales' aggravation with the city government began.

She has to obtain the forms to file the claim against the city, record the damage through photographs, provide copies of the photographs with the form and obtain two estimates from two different body shops.

Then, the waiting begins, she said, for city officials to approve paying for the damage.

"I think after what I've been through," she said, "they should have someone come out here and take an appraisal and inspect my vehicle. I just want my automobile fixed and for whoever is responsible to make sure that this doesn't happen again."

Sgt. Kirby Redlin of the Victoria Police Department, who responded to the accident, said that in his 30 years as an officer, he had never seen a traffic light detach from its perch.

The city's Public Works Department is expected to attach a new light to the pole.

Meanwhile, Rosales said the incident may give her the evidence she needs to prove a point to her husband.

"I've told my husband that I wanted to move to the country. There are no objects falling from the sky in the country."

Advocate photographer Angeli Wright contributed to this story.