Spokane truck driver involved in fatal NY restaurant crash


by KREM.com, David Nutt, Andrew Casler and Simon Wheeler, The Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal


Posted on June 24, 2014 at 5:45 AM

ITHACA, New York. – A truck driver from Spokane crashed into a New York restaurant Friday, killing a bartender and injuring at least seven others.

Witnesses estimated the truck was traveling as fast as 60 mph when it crashed into the building in Downtown Ithaca.

The CBS affiliate in Syracuse reported the tractor trailer hauler was owned by Auto Star Transport in Spokane. The 37-year-old driver was ticketed for having an inadequate braking system and violating length restrictions, according to CBS News.

The driver of the truck sustained superficial injuries and was being questioned by Ithaca police. The cause of the crash was being investigated Friday evening.

Lindsey Pou, 26, a pastry chef at a nearby restaurant, said she was sitting outside when she saw the tractor-trailer barreling down the street and smash into the building. She said the driver did not sound the horn, and she did not hear any screeching brakes.

There were a number of diners sitting in Simeon's restaurant, and more employees were arriving for the evening shift when the accident occurred, she said.

A group of construction workers were standing in the truck's path and had to leap out of the way to avoid being hit, according to Pou.

"Everyone screamed. A lot of people ran to try and help, to see what they could do," she said. "The response time for the police was really quick, which was awesome. They took hold of the situation."

A small fire started in the bar area of Simeon's immediately after the collision but was extinguished.

The city engineer's office as well as an outside engineering firm were evaluating the building.

After the truck collided with the restaurant, the building's front corner collapsed, leaving a gaping hole in the apartments above Simeon's. Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said the occupants of the apartments were not home at the time of the collision.

Myrick advised people to avoid the area for the time being.

"There is some risk of the building collapsing," he said.

Late Friday evening, a crane tore a section off the four-story building's roof. Tow trucks were on the scene to remove the car carrier.

Ithaca Police Department Public Information Officer Jamie Williamson said four injured people had been transported to Cayuga Medical Center with an additional person possibly arriving on their own. A hospital spokesperson said seven injured people had been admitted. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, they said.

The names of the person killed and of the driver were not immediately released.

As of late Friday evening, the truck was still left partially inside the restaurant. It was carrying two decks of cars in its trailer, which extended from the restaurant out into the street.