Keith Kadle, Jacksonville’s assistant fire chief said at the scene said it was not immediately clear why the driver crashed into the store and that no one in the vehicle was hurt. He did not know the extent of the employee’s injuries.
It was “a young, permitted driver and there was some confusion,” Kadle said. “Instead of going backward, they went forward.”
By 8 p.m. the car had been cleared from the scene, but a hole gaped where the store’s glass front had stood. Inside, the store’s signature orange counter was bent and pushed back about six feet from the impact of the car.
Just in front of the counter, tread marks streaked the tile floor, which was covered with broken glass, advertisements and sheets of coupons.
Mark Williams, Jacksonville’s building inspector, was on the scene to make sure the building was secure. Williams said the force of the impact damaged the building’s electrical system.
While Williams inspected, building construction crews and a glass company took measurements, cleaned up glass and erected a wooden frame to board up the pizza shop overnight.
Four store employees stood by as the crews worked. They swapped stories and shared pictures, but said they were not allowed to speak to a reporter about the incident.
Piedmont resident Brian Young’s family owns the building, in which a Grub Mart convenience store also is located. He stood outside the crash scene, and said this was not the first time a car has crashed into one of his family’s buildings.
He said businesses usually reopen within days of such incidents, but he was unsure how long it would take the Little Caesars store to reopen in Jacksonville. Standing just outside what had been the store’s entrance, Young said the front counter could be problematic.
“The counter will be their biggest hold up,” Young said.
Kadle, the assistant fire chief, said the city’s emergency responders have been called to similar scenes several times before.
“About a couple of times a year we have a car go through something,” Kadle said. “It’s not that uncommon.”
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.