Driver Dodges Squirrel, Takes Out Hydrant

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A geyser erupted by the Mariner's Branch Library when a minivan dodged a squirrel on the road and sheared off a fire hydrant. Photo by Scott Beach

A man crashed his minivan into a fire hydrant just outside the Newport Beach Mariners Branch Library this afternoon, causing a massive geyser to shoot into the sky.

Tomio Nishimuta, 44, of Costa Mesa, suffered minor injuries. Nishimuta said he was driving on Irvine Avenue when a squirrel in the street caused him to slow down. Then, he said, the squirrel unexpectedly took off, darting in front of his car. He swerved to avoid hitting the squirrel and crashed into a fire hydrant.

Nishimuta sustained a cut hand and was shaken up by the incident, but was otherwise OK.

According to eyewitnesses Scott Beach, 19, and Dylan Gilbert, 17, both of Costa Mesa, it took crews nearly 30 minutes to shut off the water.

Newport Beach police interviewed the driver and he was not detained. Irvine Avenue eastbound from Mariners Elementary School until the corner of Dover Drive was shut down while crews cleaned up the mess.

Nishimuta was not alone in the car. His small dog was with him at the time. When asked what his dog name was, he replied, “Cat.”

The man and his dog left the scene on foot, saying they lived nearby. The severely damaged car was towed from the scene.

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