Fire Chief Greg Rogers said the circumstances surrounding the crash are still under investigation, but that no one in the vehicle or in the building was hurt.
A light rain had been falling and the road was slick, possibly contributing to the accident. A police investigation will try to determine if the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed and if road conditions contributed to the crash, police officials said.
The call came in at 7:59 a.m., Rogers said. The Waldron Chiropractor & Fitness Center—a short distance from Broadway—was closed and so no one was inside when the vehicle plunged through the front door and window, knocking down a front support.
The silver SUV jumped the curb just after crossing Broadway, and was propelled across the sidewalk, crashing through the front door and window where one of its front wheels got wedged inside. Portions of the façade and interior ceiling fell onto the vehicle, which firefighters had to clear carefully to keep additional metal and glass from falling.
Working with hand tools and other devices, firefighters slowly removed loose and hanging debris from above the vehicle. The four teens were able to get out of the vehicle without incident, and the most substantial damage to the SVU appeared to be the front fender, bumper, and engine area.
In order not to endanger firefighters who were installing supports to keep the building’s front from collapsing, the light rail was shut down. Rogers said this was to keep possible vibrations from bringing down the building.
“The vehicle took down the central support,” Rogers said.
Police blocked off the street from Broadway to the 8th Street Station near Avenue C, while firefighters worked their way into the fitness center. The firefighters slowly removed hanging ceiling tiles, air exhaust fans and ducts and other pieces of the interior shaken loose by the crash.
Firefighters installed supports that would allow the vehicle to be extracted. Inspectors from the city building department were on the scene evaluating the situation.
Rogers said the property owner has been notified and the city building department will later determine the full extent of the damage.
Firefighters moved in with pry bars and temporary support beams as other members of the crew used computers and other technology to keep close watch on the structure.
“We’re more advanced than we were in the past in dealing with situations like this,” Rogers said. “We have gone through extensive training over the last few years.”
While the property owner will have to bring in an insurance evaluator and an engineering firm of his own to look over the condition of the property, the fate of the building will be in the hands of the building department to determine if it is still fundamentally stable.
Meanwhile, the fire department will have the area cordoned off to prevent possible injury to the public, Rogers said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.