After being bumped onto the tracks as the red lights flashed, Susan Muzzy hit the gas but lost control and put a hole in Bruno’s.
A motorist’s efforts to avoid being hit by a train on Allen Avenue ended with her SUV crashing into Bruno’s Restaurant and Tavern on Thursday.
Susan Muzzy, 59, of Portland was driving a Toyota Rav4 on Allen Avenue toward Forest Avenue near Morrill’s Corner at about 8:40 a.m. when she stopped at the railroad tracks just as the flashing red lights there signaled the approach of a train, police said.
Julie Armstrong, 40, was traveling behind Muzzy in a Chevrolet Suburban and failed to stop in time, hitting the back of Muzzy’s car and pushing it toward the tracks, police said.
“They were sitting on the tracks,” said Bob Napolitano, owner of Bruno’s.
Muzzy turned left to get off the tracks and accelerated, driving over an embankment, police said. She then sped into the parking lot of Bruno’s, losing control and smashing into the corner of the restaurant.
The SUV, which ended up on its side, left a gaping hole in the building.
Firefighters had to extricate Muzzy from the vehicle and then took her and Armstrong to the hospital for medical evaluation. Neither was seriously hurt, police said. Police transported three other people for evaluation, all passengers in the Suburban.
Armstrong was issued a court summons on a charge of following too closely, police said.
Workers felt the restaurant shake from the impact, but the business hadn’t opened yet for the day, said Napolitano, who was surveying the damage Thursday morning.
The Fire Department shored up the damaged corner of the building with a metal support column and wood blocks. The city’s building inspector determined that the owner needs to hire an engineer to make sure the building is structurally sound after its repair.
This is the third time somebody has driven a car into his building in recent years, Napolitano said.
One time, an elderly woman who was parked in front of the restaurant pressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake and hit the building. On another occasion, a person accidentally ran into the building very late at night, he said.
Napolitano is considering erecting some kind of barrier to protect his restaurant.