Another Rude Blast Hits Christopher Martin’s
by Paul Bass | Jun 3, 2012 4:58 pm
Posted to: Upper State Street
When a 16-year-old boy crashed into Christopher Martin’s restaurant at 1:45 a.m. Sunday, Chris Garaffa had a feeling of deja vu.
Garaffa was upstairs in his apartment above the popular Upper State Street restaurant and pub working on his computer when he heard the crash, then all the cops getting to work.
This time, he thought to himself, “this wasn’t gunshots.”
On April 1 at 2:37 a.m., sitting in the same apartment, Garaffa (pictured) was also disturbed by a loud scene outside the restaurant. That time he did hear gunshots. It turned out some off-duty cops were letting loose with their firearms on the sidewalk. (They were eventually arrested; read about that here.)
Today’s scary middle-of-the-night episode turned out to be a different matter.
“It was just screeching tires, and boom!”
A 16-year-old boy, chased north on Upper State Street by a police sergeant, had tried to make a left turn onto Clark Street. He missed it. Instead he plowed into sidewalk tables area where two customers were seated, then into the Christopher Martin’s facade.
One of the two patrons went to the hospital with minor injuries, according to police Lt. Jeff Hoffman.
The building suffered more serious damage. The driver smashed the front window and hit the building so hard it cracked and dislodged the bricks. Owner Chris Vigilante had to summon builder Keith May from Madison to work through the night until noon to erect and paint temporary walls and shore up the bricks. A city building official came out in the middle of the night, too, to make sure the building was safe.
If it had happened 10 minutes earlier, the driver would have run into six patrons out on the sidewalk, Vigilante said mid-day Sunday as he inspected the repair work.
“Somebody could have died,” he said, shaking his head at his sudden run of bad luck. “It was insane.”
The incident began at the corner of Chapel and State Streets. A 16-year-old boy got into an argument with, among others, a young woman. He got into her Volvo and drove it away, according to Hoffman. The young woman’s father had rented the Volvo, he said.
The boy has a suspended license. He also “appeared intoxicated,” Hoffman said.
The young man stopped Sgt. Chris Rubino. He told her someone had just stolen the Volvo.
Rubino followed the boy up State Street. Nearing Clark Street, he got close enough to call in the license plate number. That’s when the boy made the fateful left turn.
Hoffman said the boy went to the hospital, too, but wasn’t badly hurt. Police are investigating the case to determine precisely which charges to bring against him.
“Things keep happening on this corner. I think it’s cursed,” said Garaffa, who just signed a new two-year lease on his apartment.
The crash did produce one upside for Christopher Martin’s regulars: The crash smashed a 50-inch Samsung TV. Sunday afternoon a replacement arrived—with a 64-inch screen.
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Put in a bump out at the corner. Problem solved and will never happen again.
The City bureaucrats will say this costs money, but it’s actually almost free if you use things like planters and rubber strips.
Saint Louis does this throughout downtown, and there are many examples in New York City as well.
We just need some creativity, not more money.
I guess the driver was still thirsty.
Anonymous, I agree with you that this is a good idea, but “will never happen again.” I find to be a bit optimistic. The driver was evading police while drunk, in a stolen car, with a suspended license. Me thinks the really question is what was he going to crash into first?
HhE, it is much more difficult to even think about evading police if you have to drive at a reasonable speed. Or at the least, you pick a different street to make your turn and don’t crash into a cafe full of patrons.
anonymous, I doubt “thinking” was going on.
I also take issue with absolutist statement/qualifiers such as “never.”
Traffic calming, while something I support, is hardly free. It will take more money, as well as creativity.
A study (granted, a bit dated) by the California Highway Patrol of its own pursuits found that one in three ended in an accident.
Driving Techniques by Anthony Scotti (p. 137) PhotoGraphics Publishing, Ridgefield, NJ, 1995. (Please note that I cite a source when quantifying something.)
HhE, actually, most examples around the world are free—in the sense that citizens decide to make their street a better place, and go out and do it.
Our bureaucrats would have you believe otherwise.
“European traffic calming began as a grassroots movement in the late 1960’s. Angry residents of the Dutch city of Delft fought cut-through traffic by turning their streets into “woonerven,” or “living yards.”“
Read about Africa, Asia, too.
I’m not sure why we wait for years or even decades for our government to take action to prevent death and destruction, when the solutions are so simple and cheap.
Anonymous, most of the western European countries I have been to have far more reasonable traffic. Even the exceptions of Italy and France are far more pedestrian friendly. I would say with some confidence that this is a cultural rather than a physical plant construct, albeit their narrower streets do also help.
Which countries in Asian and Africa do you have in mind? I have only been to one African country, Kenya, and the traffic there was okay. Of the eight Asian countries I have been to, only Japan and Singapore could be thought of as traffic calm and pedestrian friendly.
To answer your last question, because we are a car centric culture, and there are more drivers who vote than pedestrians who do.