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Truck Crash Jeopardizes Shop’s Holiday

Published November 29, 2011

ATTLEBORO, MA (BRAIN)—Just as the holiday shopping season gets into gear, Union Cycle owner Rick Desmarais found himself in the unenviable position Tuesday of possibly having to close his doors for two months.

Just days before, a 73-year-old man driving away from a Subway sandwich store across the street plowed his pickup truck into the store, destroying two 10-foot windows and taking out a double-tier shop rack loaded with about 50 bikes. “A lot of them were kids bikes on the bottom and some pretty expensive bikes up top,” said Desmarais, who preliminarily estimated losses at $50,000. No one was injured.

“We were open when this happened, so it could’ve been really bad. There could’ve been kids in that section. Thank God nobody was hurt,” said Desmarais.

The truck was headed toward Desmarais’ office, where he was standing in the doorway, at a speed of about 45 mph but was stopped by a structural beam inside the store. Damage to the beam, however, means the store may have to close for as long as two months for structural repairs. The windows cannot be replaced until that work is completed, said Desmarais. He’s been at the helm of the shop for 27 years.

Desmarais is hoping his landlord can put the work off until January, but in the meantime he is trying to squeeze in whatever holiday sales he can. “On the East Coast we only have a couple nice weeks where we can sell stuff, and the rest of the year up until April is dead. So we’re kinda banking on a couple nice weeks before we lose that,” Desmarais said as he perused Trek’s website for replacement kids’ bikes.

The sight of the truck bursting into his shop is something Desmarais won’t soon forget. “It was kind of like an explosion happening right in front of you. All the glass coming in, the beam breaking, the cinderblocks coming in—it was incredible.”

But the surreal experience didn’t end there. “When the police pulled the truck out, [the driver] actually gets out of the truck with a cane and a large Subway sandwich,” said Desmarais. “He didn’t say anything to anybody. All he did was walk right to the police car. He was almost in a state of shock.”

—Toby Hill

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