Details emerge surrounding SUV, building accident

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We have new information about a crash drawing a lot of attention on Adams and Marshall Street.

The crash happened Saturday after police say the driver of an SUV failed to yield the right-of-way to a VCU police cruiser.

State Police say the driver of that SUV, who is from South Carolina, was distracted.

Troopers say she may have been paying more attention to a GPS unit than the road.

If you ever wanted a peek inside the apartment above the Marshall Street Cafe, now's your chance.

With the exterior walls collapsed, you can see everything.

Peter Culley was inside his apartment across the street when he heard the collision that caused the extraordinary scene.

"There was a series of screeches and brakes and crashes probably over 15 seconds," he said. "Then there was obviously a really big bang when the building collapsed."

What was revealed as the dust settled astonished him.

"It's very strange," he said. "I don't know; it's not the sort of thing you typically see in a peaceful time I suppose. It looks like a car bomb or something."

The traffic lights were once again working Sunday, but we learned that wasn't the case when the cars collided.

A power outage had knocked out the signals.

State Police sergeant Chris Clark says not only should the driver have treated this situation as a four-way stop, but:

"The vehicle on the left, which is the vehicle in the building here, should have yielded to the vehicle on the right, which was the police vehicle," said Sgt. Clark.

The revelation makes the worst case scenarios run through the minds of neighbors like Mia Tankersley.

"It's scary to think what if you approach an intersection and the lights are out or what if you're sitting inside a café and all the sudden car comes through the windows and bowls you over," she said.

Right now, the question is what will happen when crews remove this steel beam resting on the SUV.

"It's sort of maybe worse than you might have imagined in terms of the building but better in terms of what you might have imagined with damage to people," said Culley.

State Police say this is a good opportunity to remind drivers to always follow right of way rules and to treat a malfunctioning traffic signal as a four-way stop.

Crews are expected to work to remove the SUV from the building some time Monday.

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