The home of Mascoutah's youth football organization was severely damaged Tuesday morning when it was hit by a tractor-trailer truck, police said.
The operator of the semi, Mark C. Lautenschlager, 56 of 11718 Rt. 177 in Mascoutah, apparently fell asleep just a few miles from his home, according to Chief of Police Bruce Fleshren. He hit the Little Indians Football and Cheer Program building at 124 W. Main St. at around 2:30 a.m.
"Right now we're scrambling to find a place to call home, at least temporarily," Little Indians president Tony Williams said. "We have a regular board meeting that we were supposed to hold in that building (Wednesday). We're scrambling to find meeting location right now."
In addition to housing board meetings, Williams said the damaged office serves as the place where uniforms are distributed and collected. He said right now about 150 uniform sets must be returned and the collection was expected to be at the office Nov. 19. The building is also used as a Little Indians merchandise store and a place where coaches clinics meetings and clinics are held.
Lautenschlager was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.
"There were no injuries, but extensive damage to the building," Fleshren said. "(The) driver stated that he fell asleep prior to the crash."
No estimate of the cost to repair the damage was immediately available. But the truck smashed into the corner of the building, knocking loose concrete blocks and bricks, smashing out windows and knocking the front door's frame off its foundation.
Rick Rohr, whose family owns the building which for three decades was a movie rental store called Mr. Video, said he's confident it can be repaired.
"The front facade was damaged," Rohr said. "But, fortunately, there was no gas or electric in that part of the building. When this building was built in the 1960s it was one of the few ones on Main Street that was set back from the street. It was back from the road to leave room in case Main Street was ever widened. If not for that, the damage would have been much worse."
Workers were cleaning up debris and boarding up the structure Tuesday. Leaders of the Little Indians are anxious to hear the fate of their program's home.
"Right now we have to wait to see if the building can be repaired," Williams said. "We've been there almost two years and it has been cheap to rent. "Being a not-for-profit, we don't have a lot to spend. Our biggest concern is having a place to call home that we can afford."
About 320 kids, ages 5-14, participate in Little Indians Football and Cheer. One team in the program is still alive in the playoffs and will practice this week. Williams said the damage to the building won't impact that squad's operation. Several other clubs just wrapped up their season last weekend.
Williams said participants and their families should check the program's website, http://www.littleindians.org/ or the program's Facebook page for information about the board meeting, uniform return or other business that would have normally been held at the damaged building.
"We're planning to hold our meeting at its regular time, 7 p.m.," Williams said. "But right now it's a matter of where."
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.