A sneeze briefly knocked out electric power to abut 1,300 Winona residents Wednesday morning.

Travers Lee DeWitte, 38, was approaching the intersection of Mark and Louisa streets when he felt the irresistible urge to sneeze, according to Winona deputy police chief Tom Williams.

Williams said DeWitte told police that when the sneeze erupted he involuntarily stepped on the gas pedal, sending his vehicle across the intersection and out of control. The vehicle jumped a curb and struck a guy wire attached to a power pole, snapping the cable, which flew up and struck and snapped a power line, cutting power to about 1,300 Xcel customers.

Sparks from the severed line ignited a small grass fire at the base of the pole that quickly burned itself out, Williams said.

DeWitte told police he thought his car would be towed as a result of the mishap, so he drove it to an address on the 1050 block of East Wabasha Street, then walked back to the scene of the accident to report to police.

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