Update: SUV removed, Jackson Ward building secure for now

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After four days, an SUV is safely removed from a Jackson Ward building. Now a new round of work begins.

There were some tense moments as crews carefully worked to remove the vehicle that had been stuck inside the popular Marshall Street Cafe since Saturday. Crews are now cleaning up the sidewalk and preparing to board up the building. Getting to this point took several days of planning, and, for now, the work is being called a success.

With the SUV lodged inside the dining room going on a fourth day, tension was building...and not just on the broken support beam.

"I was feeling the nerves, yeah, definitely," said Aaron Whitmore of Blake Contracting. Whitmore led the effort to safely extract the car. He had to do it before a small crowd, and a gaggle of live cameras.

It took only about half an hour for the vehicle to be removed. Time well spent, avoiding what could've been an even bigger disaster.

"Four feet of the column was embedded in the car, so it's a good thing they didn't pull it out Saturday night, or it would've made the building collapse," Whitmore said.

Among those watching the removal was Kristen Unterseher, former resident of the second floor apartment above the Café. She said, "It doesn't seem real." Unterseher wasn't home when it happened...but her dog was, and survived. For now, they're staying in a house nearby.

The removal of the vehicle marks a turning point in this ordeal that began over the weekend. Saturday, a woman slammed into a VCU police car, and ricocheted into the Café.

Inside, the building now needs temporary walls. Outside, hydraulic support will stay for at least another day. The plan still, is to rebuild, but that could take months.

"It was entertaining while it lasted, but thank God they got it out. Hopefully everybody was fine and unfortunately this little cafe, Marshall Street Cafe, was a nice place to eat at, and who knows how long that's gonna be closed now," said George Diaz, who witnessed the removal.

There are still some road closings. As of Tuesday evening, W. Marshall St. is closed between Brook Road and 1st St. N. Adams St. is closed between Brook and Clay St. They're expected to remain closed for perhaps another 24 hours.

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