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Hit-and-run crash causes blackout at Rohnert Park casino

  • Graton Resort & Casino. (PD FILE, 2013)

A hit-and-run crash knocked out power to more than 3,600 customers in Rohnert Park on Tuesday night, briefly closing the new Graton Resort & Casino.

The casino reopened shortly after the 10:53 p.m. power outage, casino spokeswoman Lori Nelson said.

"We had emergency lighting in place," Nelson said. "We reopened fairly quickly."

Security employees helped gamblers at table games cash out. Customers playing slot machines, which shut down when the power went out, were told they would be paid any money that was owed them, Nelson said.

Nelson said she didn't know how many people were in the casino at the time, but said it wasn't crowded because the incident occurred after peak hours.

The power outage was caused by the driver of a Ford Focus that ran off Roberts Lake Road in northern Rohnert Park and crashed into a power pole, CHP Sgt. Allan Capurro said.

The impact knocked down electrical lines near southern Santa Rosa Avenue and left 3,631 customers in east and west Rohnert Park without power.

All customers were reconnected by 12:15 a.m., with some restored a little earlier, PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said.

The driver, Roberto Vergara Jr., 23, of Santa Rosa, contacted the CHP on Wednesday. He told an investigator that he left the late-night scene because he was scared.

The crash, considered a misdemeanor hit-and-run, remained under investigation Wednesday.

After hitting the pole, the car caught fire. Rincon Valley, Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa firefighters responded to the blaze.

At the casino, the building became oddly quiet when the power went out, said Mark Spongberg, a Santa Rosa resident who was inside the poker room. Several lights came back on shortly after the casino went dark, but the main poker area was dimly lit, he said.

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