January 15, 2013
WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Four people were injured, one seriously, when an SUV careened across four lanes of traffic and crashed into the side of the Denny‚??s restaurant on Kidder Street about 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Several customers said they were dining when they saw the vehicle, a 2003 Ford Escape, barrel down an embankment and slam into the side of the building facing Kidder Street.
‚??I was sitting facing the window, and I saw this car coming. I said ‚??Oh my God,‚?? ‚?Ě said Tawana Lovell of Wilkes-Barre, who was one of approximately 40 to 50 people and 12 employees in the restaurant. ‚??It sounded like this big explosion.‚?Ě
Lovell said about three people were sitting in a booth next to the window the car struck. One man‚??s legs were pinned underneath the table. She and other customers and employees worked to free him.
Joe Stahovic said he and his wife, Carol, of Bear Creek, were sitting a few booths away from where the car impacted the building.
‚??We didn‚??t have time to react or nothing,‚?Ě Stahovic said. ‚??The car came barreling over the hill and ran into the side of the building. It sounded like a bomb went off.‚?Ě
Wilkes-Barre police officer Bill Harden said he was northbound on Kidder Street when he saw the vehicle race down an embankment of the Travel Lodge motel across the street from Denny‚??s.
The vehicle crossed the northbound and southbound lanes of Kidder Street, then jumped a curb and careened down a second embankment, somehow missing a large tree. Fortunately there was no traffic in either lane, he said.
‚??I see this truck go flying across,‚?Ě Harden said. ‚??It‚??s amazing. He‚??s lucky he didn‚??t kill somebody.‚?Ě
Harden said the truck hit the building at an angle, then bounced backward, lodging itself between the restaurant and the tree. The driver, whom police identified as Alrick St. Michael Taylor, of Wilkes-Barre, attempted to flee and police tackled him, he said.
Police said Taylor was transported to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where he refused a chemical test.
The vehicle struck the lower section of the side wall, dislodging several bricks and smashing the large plate-glass window. Code inspectors from Wilkes-Barre were on the scene assessing the building to determine how much damage was done.
The restaurant‚??s manager, Chuck Boswell, said the building did not appear to have any structural damage. He said he expects the restaurant will be closed for a couple of days as repairs are completed.
Times Leader staff writer Steve Mocarsky contributed to this story.