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Deadly thunderstorm leaves more than 427,000 in the dark

More than 427,000 BGE customers remained without power Saturday morning after deadly storms hammered the region, toppling trees and light poles.

Anne Arundel County police said the storm late Friday was likely responsible for the death of 25-year-old Kevin Alan Obrien, when a tree fell and hit the car he was driving in Edgewater around 11:25 p.m.

Winds approaching 80 mph on the Bay Bridge toppled a tractor trailer, and police shut down both spans of the bridge, according to Sgt. Kirk Perez of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police. The driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital, Perez said.

Alessandro Vitale says he witnessed the accident through his windshield as he was driving east across the bridge, shortly after winds shook his own Ford F350 truck side to side near the middle of the span.

"All of a sudden I felt my truck moving," he told The Sun by phone. "I look to my right. There is a tractor trailer that starts swaying. I slow down and watch this tractor trailer completely get knocked over."

"It's resting on the concrete barrier — almost falling off the bridge," he said.

Vitale, who runs business operations at the Harbor East restaurant Chazz: A Bronx Original, was driving to Ocean City. He called The Sun less than an hour after the accident, while still on the bridge.

Across the region, emergency crews rushed to action to respond to the damage. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake activated Baltimore's Emergency Operations Center to coordinate recovery operations as police reported numerous downed trees in city roadways.

One tree apparently landed on a Baltimore Police crime lab vehicle, according to chatter on the police scanner. "Power lines are on fire," came another report over the scanner.

Twitter was filled with reports of power outages, fallen trees — and amazement at the storm's ferocity.

Just before midnight Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith tweeted: "Someone please tell me how hard was that wind just blowing....I thought a damn tornado was on the ground it was crazy!!!!"

Fellow Ravens player Bryan Hall's car took damage, he tweeted: "Shout out to the tree that was chillin on my car!"

The National Weather Service described the storm as delivering quarter-size hail, frequent lightning strikes and destructive winds in excess of 70 mph. The storm was part of a larger weather system moving into parts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Iowa and Illinois.

By Saturday morning, nearly 119,000 customers in Baltimore County remained without power and service was restored to about 43,600. In Baltimore, 96,450 were without power; 19,400 had their power restored.

More than 94,000 remained without service in Anne Arundel County and 12,700 had power back on. Howard County had 42,000 without power; 8,400 had service restored. Another 10,000 were without service in Harford County with 1,600 having service restored.

More than 3,200 customers remained without power in Carroll County and 3,700 had their service back on.

Scott.Calvert@baltsun.com

ywenger@baltsun.com

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