People Keep Hitting Things in Wauwatosa
Robertson's Ace Hardware store in the Village is latest victim of an errant driver.
Events that are almost surely coincidental nevertheless sometimes seem to come in spates and cycles – like the frequency of drivers ramming vehicles into immovable objects, including stone buildings and bridges.
The latest example involved a rock-solid Wauwatosa landmark, Robertson's Ace Hardware store, the centerpiece structure in Tosa Village.
At 11:04 a.m. Friday, police were called to the store at 1417 Underwood Ave. to find that a car had crashed into the building near the entrance.
The driver told police she was pulling into a parking space on Underwood when she accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake.
The Fire Department was called as a precaution, but the woman was not injured and the damage to the building was not deemed threatening to the public.
Besides damage to the stone facade itself, two large windows were broken. Robertson’s manager made immediate arrangements to have the damaged area temporarily boarded up.
The Fire Department estimated the damage at about $15,000.
Update on 'A bridge too low'
Wauwatosa Patch had previously reported an incident Wednesday in which a driver on his way to get some lunch ran afoul of a 12-foot-high bridge in a 12-foot-plus truck.
According to the initial police report, the offender, who was ticketed for failure to obey a sign, was a semi-tractor driver. However, it now appears from photos snapped by reader April Tillman Cavanaugh that the driver was at the wheel of a large Penske rental box truck – perhaps not a professional truck driver after all.
He told police he had dropped off a trailer and was on his way to find something to eat, and paying more attention to his GPS than to the road, when he hit the railroad bridge in the 1700 block of Swan Boulevard.
He told police he missed seeing the bridge clearance sign and realized the bridge was too low "when I hit it." He was not injured.
Cavanaugh's photos show that the truck did make it under the bridge, but only at the expense of ripping open the top all the way to the back and tearing off the rear doors.
Swan was shut down for hours from West North Avenue south as the Canadian Pacific Railroad had to be called in to inspect the bridge for safety.
"Yeah, that happens every couple of years," Wauwatosa Police Capt. Jeff Sutter remarked dryly.
The homing instinct
Also reported earlier was the case of a Wauwatosa man who the previous weekend, with a blood alcohol content of 0.33, or more than four times the proscribed limit to drive in Wisconsin, ran into his own house on North 60th Street after driving across the lawn.
The man was not injured in the accident.
A likely mechanical failure
Two other more serious accidents reported earlier this year involved elderly men who drove their cars, each with his wife as a passenger, into Wauwatosa homes at high speeds.
On May 18, an unidentified couple drove into a house on the southwest corner of Blue Mound Road and North 84th Street at very high speed – witnesses estimated 40 to 50 miles per hour – and were both hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
In that incident, it was unknown whether there might have been a medical issue or whether, as seemed more likely to witnesses, that the car's throttle had stuck open.
The couple had left a parking space at the nearby Pick 'n Save store with the motor at full bore and, with tires screaming, managed to make a turn before crossing the parking lot, passing behind a gas station and then crossing all four lanes of busy 84th Street before hitting the house.
A health issue and a medical scare
On April 19, a Wauwatosa couple, Jim and Corrine O'Brien, were hospitalized after he had a medical event while behind the wheel and crashed their car into a house at the corner of West Wisconsin Avenue and North 76th Street.
In that incident, police estimated the O'Briens' car was traveling at about 35 miles per hour when it hit the home and then careened into a tree, stopping it.
Corrine O'Brien was seriously injured and kept for two days in intensive care in critical condition, but she recovered and was released the following week.