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Semi collides into Lingle Real Estate office and Smiley's Old English Pub & Grill at North Eighth and "A" streets in Richmond. 
Read the Palladium-Item account of this accident.
Photos by Chris Hardie.  Taken on August 14, 2001

Truck crashes into Smiley's Pub on North 8th Street in Richmond.
Closeup of truck that crashed into Smiley's Pub on North 8th Street in Richmond.

Downtown Richmond: Cleaning up the wreckage

Reprinted with permission from the Palladium-Item (Richmond, IN) - August 15, 2001

Author: Dave Evensen and Don Fasnacht, Staff

Accident aftermath captures attention
Is it safe? Inspection of buildings needed before cab is removed

Dave Evensen and Don Fasnacht, Staff writers

Kim Bloom thought it was a bomb.

At about 6 a.m. Tuesday she was turning on lights upstairs at the YMCA at 50 N. Eighth St. in Richmond when a powerful impact rocked the building and rattled the windows.

Her first thought was to get out. She dashed down the stairs, rounded the front desk to go out the door, and that's when she saw the semitrailer that had plowed into the offices and buildings across the street.

She couldn't believe it when the truck driver, Cleo Webb, 51, staggered out of the smashed cab.

"How he walked out of there I'll never know," she said.

Bloom was the first to call 911. She had to convince the dispatcher it actually happened.

"In all the years I've worked here I've never seen anything like this," she said, watching crews clean up the scene Tuesday afternoon. "You don't understand how scared I was because I didn't know what it was."

Webb's truck is still wedged in the buildings across from the YMCA, perhaps the only thing that was keeping two battered buildings from collapsing since the crash Tuesday morning.

The tractor was left in place until construction crews could be assembled to shore up the common wall between the two buildings today.

Workers said it would be at least noon before they tried to pull the tractor out of the Lingle Real Estate office and Smiley's Old English Pub & Grill where it came to rest.

"Until we get the tractor out of there, we won't know the extent of the damage," Richmond City Engineer Bob Wiwi said.

The semi smashed through a shared brick wall between the buildings. The impact punched a large hole in the wall and moved some structural I-beams.

"There is a 2-inch-wide crack in that wall running all the way up to the ceiling of the second floor," Wiwi said.

A thorough inspection of the buildings will be needed before their fate will be known.

"We need to feel it's safe to go back in," Wiwi said.

Wiwi, city building inspectors and workers from Whitewater Construction company will inspect the wall today to determine the structural integrity of the buildings and the possibility of repair.

The first block of North Eighth Street remained closed overnight Tuesday while construction equipment was moved in.

The closure required southbound traffic on U.S. 27 be detoured a block west on South Seventh Street.

It was mid-afternoon Tuesday before crews unloaded all of the drywall from Webb's truck and pulled the trailer free of the wreckage.

They had an audience. For most of the day people were lined up shoulder-to-shoulder at the yellow police tape surrounding the scene. At lunchtime, the lines were three deep. People were pulling into nearby parking lots at 9:30 p.m. to look at the wreckage.

Clean Harbors, a cleaning company out of Cincinnati, was called in to clean up about 300 gallons of diesel fuel spilled in the accident. Much of it leaked into Lingle's basement.

The spilled fuel kept Fred Griffin, director of Wayne County's Emergency Management Agency, at the scene most of Tuesday. The spilled fuel oil turned the situation into a hazardous material spill.

Richmond firefighters also were at the scene all day. A contingent of Richmond police officers stayed at the scene overnight.

The driver of a van Webb's truck hit before swerving into the buildings - Carolyn S. Krause, 61, Hamilton, Ohio - was admitted to Reid Hospital and was in stable condition this morning. She was expected to be released today. She was the only person injured in the accident.

The tractor-trailer truck and the Krause van were both destroyed in the accident.

Total loss as a result of the accident hasn't been determined but is expected to range well into six figures when the fate of the buildings has been determined.

Police were directing traffic into a single lane two blocks north of the accident on North Eighth Street.

With cars moving slowly and plenty of manpower on hand, officers began checking for seatbelt use and handing out tickets to motorists who weren't buckled up.

Neighboring businesses suffer minor headaches

by Dave Evensen, Staff writer

A semitrailer did more than knock out a few walls Tuesday morning. It knocked out traffic along Eighth Street and posed some minor problems to businesses that weren't even directly involved.

The YMCA on 50 N. Eighth St., across the street from where the truck smashed into the Lingle Real Estate offices and Smiley's Old English Pub & Grill, narrowly escaped disaster but still had to juggle its morning schedule.

The building was evacuated when authorities feared the truck's load of wood might fall from the trailer and skitter across the street into the offices. It wasn't until about 11 a.m. the building was opened again.

In the meantime, customers were turned away and kids coming to summer camp were loaded into a van and taken to a city park, said Kim Bloom, senior program manager.

"The kids thought it was cool," she said.

Detoured drivers felt their way around the scene, sometimes driving the wrong way down one-way alleys and cutting across parking lots.

"I don't think we've been greatly impacted," said Robert Powell, regional president of Firstar Bank. "Aside from some confusion in the parking lot."

Diesel fumes crept into Greg Pyle Award Winning Photography, just a couple doors down from the wreck.

Still, owner Greg Pyle thought customers could reach him even though they wouldn't be able to drive down Eighth Street.

"They'll find their way in," he said. He was waiting for students to come in for their senior portraits. "We have parking in back."

Downtown Richmond: Cleaning up the wreckage | Lingle Real Estate takes worst hit

Dave Evensen, Staff writer

Lingle Real Estate felt the worst of the wreck Tuesday morning.

A loaded semitrailer barely missed a parked car and a small tree but destroyed three offices in the real estate office.

"Mainly it's in Paul Lingle's building," said Richmond Fire Department battalion chief Jim Purcell. About 300 gallons of diesel fuel leaked into the building and its basement, which had to be cleaned by crews Tuesday.

A tow truck hauled away the trailer at about 3 p.m. Tuesday, but the cab remained imbedded in the wall between Lingle and Smiley's Old English Pub & Grill.

Purcell pointed to a support beam laying across the cab and said if they pulled the truck out now, the front of the Lingle office would probably collapse.

But the Lingle office was up and running by afternoon, and employees were answering phones.

"We're open," owner Paul Lingle said. "We're probably more open than we want to be because there are a lot of holes in the walls."

Joking aside, Lingle acknowledges they are relatively lucky. The truck struck when no one was in the offices, and the diesel fuel didn't cause a fire.

"I think our main concern after knowing that everyone was healthy and nobody was injured was the risk of fire," he said. "That process (of preventing a fire) went well."

Lingle is hoping the cab is removed sometime soon. Purcell expects the road to be closed through part of today, and the cab will be removed when engineers can take the wall's load off the truck and place it on beams.

Lingle does not have a damage estimate yet.

"These things happen," he said. "We were in the way of a big semi? The first thing we gotta do is clean it up and get the truck out of here."

Smiley's hopes to be open by Thursday

Don Fasnacht, Staff writer

Smiley's Old English Pub & Grill was dark Tuesday night.

The nose of a tractor-trailer truck was still protruding through the north wall into the popular watering hole.

There was no Guinness Stout at a dollar a pint.

But the lights will be on again soon.

"We're hoping to be open by Thursday," owner Harold D. Rankin said Tuesday evening.

An appearance by Slim Pickin's Band on Friday is still on. The performance starts at 10 p.m.

The semi that slammed into the Oliver Twist section of Smiley's early Tuesday morning did heavy damage to the north end of the tavern.

The extent of that damage won't be evaluated until the truck is extracted and the wall and structural beams are thoroughly inspected.

But Smiley's isn't one building. It's five, stretching south from the area of the impact along North Eighth Street. The four undamaged buildings can be boarded off from the wreckage and opened for business.

Tuesday, the undamaged parts of Smiley's were dark while construction workers re-established electricity. There was a strong smell of fuel oil from the basement.

Rankin spent a long day Tuesday getting the oil mopped up and equipment rearranged to operate in the new layout.

He remained philosophical.

"It's one of those bumps in the road," he said.

Rankin has had the bar, "Or it's had me," for 33 years, he said.

Over that time it has expanded both north and south from the original Cafe 39, a long, narrow tavern named for its address.

ACCIDENT UP CLOSE

Cleo Webb saw a green light at North A Street as he was driving his semitrailer south on U.S. 27 (200 block of North Eighth Street) at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

• The light turned red before Webb entered the intersection, and the tractor-trailer truck smashed into a van driven by Carolyn S. Krause.

• Webb swerved right toward the YMCA, then cut back across North Eighth Street and smashed into the offices of Lingle Realty and the Oliver Twist room of Smiley's Old English Pub & Grill.

• The first block of North Eighth Street remained closed this morning as wreckage is cleaned away. Krause spent Tuesday night at Reid Hospital.


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