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Prosthetic foot factor in handicapped driver crashing through gas station
Prosthetic foot factor in handicapped driver crashing through gas station

Detective Sgt. Doug Cooley puts police tape around the All-Star Express gas station after a Friday crash.
ST. ROBERT, Mo. (Feb. 21, 2009) — A handicapped driver with a prosthetic foot drove through the front of a St. Robert gas station after his foot got caught in the accelerator, according to St. Robert police.

Sgt. Butch Hohman issued a report Friday evening indicating that Donald Ray Long, 72, of Lebanon, pulled his 2005 Mercury Monterey away from the gas pumps at All Star Express at 1:55 p.m. Friday afternoon after refueling and then attempted to park in a marked parking space.

“Mr. Long’s prosthetic foot accidently became lodged on the accelerator’s linkage causing the Long vehicle to accelerate,” Hohman wrote in his report. “The Long vehicle then traveled up and over the sidewalk … impacting with the west side (front) of the building causing extensive damage to the structure.”

While police characterized the damage as extensive, Alan Clark of the St. Robert building and land use department indicated after an initial inspection Friday afternoon that the building won’t have to be shut down and should be able to reopen soon.

“There is no structural compromise to the building or any electrical hazard,” Clark said Friday. “They’ll just have to board up the front entrance for security reasons; what he’s got to do is clean up the mess.”

The van did cause more damage to the inside, causing what police caused “extensive damage to items inside the store” and hit a customer, Kara G. Branch, 25, of St. Robert, before hitting the east wall of the building and coming to a stop.

Branch sustained undetermined injuries, according to the police report, and was transported to Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla by Pulaski County Ambulance District personnel.

Long’s vehicle sustained extensive damage and was left at the scene, police reported.

The gas station was still closed Saturday afternoon with heavy construction equipment, other vehicles, and yellow caution tape blocking off access to the area between the pumps and the building. A dumpster was located outside the building and it’s not clear when the gas station will reopen.

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