Courier Staff Writer
A driver suffering from a seizure slammed into Tony’s Flowers on Saturday morning.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, police and fire responded to an accident in the 400 block of Church Street. Tony Yencsik, owner of Tony’s Flowers, said the driver of a truck apparently had a seizure and hit the front of his store.
According to the police report, a 74-year-old Ottumwa man was driving his Ford Ranger west on Weller Street when he had a “medical emergency,” ran through the stop sign and straight into the building. The truck did not stop until hitting a dividing wall inside the store.
Police estimate damages to the building total approximately $25,000, ruined $3,000 worth of merchandise at Tony’s Flowers and $3,000 worth of merchandise at South Side Drug.
The man was transported to Ottumwa Regional Health Center. Police determined his truck was totaled.
But Yencsik said that even though his store is boarded up, it’s open and ready to sell flowers for Valentine’s Day.
He said he won’t be pressing charges against the driver.
“We wish him nothing but the best, and we just hope for a quick recovery,” he said. “It was just an accident.”
Less than three hours after the accident, Frase Construction Inc. had cleaned up the store and hauled away debris.
“They boarded up the whole front and put in a door so it doesn’t look like we are closed,” Yenscik said.
The storefront’s 8-foot glass panels were shattered from the impact.
“They came completely crashing in with the vehicle,” Yencsik said. “I can still see fragments of glass shards in the wall.”
At the time of the accident, there were two customers, Yencsik and his employee, Keeley Jackson, in the store.
“Keeley ran up and turned the ignition off because he was still accelerating,” Yencsik said. “She did her best to come to his aid. She tried to wake him up and get him coherent. Before we even turned around, fire, police, ambulance and Frase Construction were all there. It was just unreal. We wouldn’t be open today if it wasn’t for them.”
Yencsik said he is still in the process of determining the cost of the damage, but a quick response from the community helped him get his business up and running by Monday morning.
“It could’ve been so much worse,” he said. “I’m just very, very happy no one was hurt. And I thank the community, the police, the emergency crews and all of our Church Street neighbors for their red carpet treatment.”