BELLEVILLE — It wasn't part of the special effects Thursday night when the building shook during the premiere of the new "Godzilla" movie at the EDGE entertainment complex.
According to Keith Schell, who co-owns the business with his wife, Mary Dahm-Schell, a motorist on Cleveland Street tore through the lawn at Roosevelt School, sideswiping a tree before driving over a 5-foot retaining wall and smashing into the northeast corner of the building -- right where the gas line enters the building.
The accident happened at 11:35 p.m. according to police reports, just as the late show of the movie was coming to an end.
"We had a major gas leak right at the end of the movie and we had to clear everybody out," Schell said. "We're really grateful that no one was hurt. It could have been a real human tragedy."
Even though the car didn't hit the building where the theaters are, Schell said some moviegoers initially thought the crash was part of the special effects.
Patron Chris Jones said he was ready for the climax of the movie when, suddenly, excitement of another kind started.
"All of the sudden, right as the movie is getting good and Godzilla was getting ready to kick some monster tail, the police busted in and said we had to evacuate," Jones said. "Once we got out of the theater itself, you could really smell the gas. I'm just glad it happened late at night when there weren't a bunch of kids around."
Belleville Police Department Capt. Don Sax said the driver, William K. Smith, 37, of Chester, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver refused medical attention at the scene.
The EDGE complex, which is an acronym for Eats, Drinks, Games, Etc., also contains a laser tag arena and d.s. Vesper's sports bar and restaurant. It is in the former Wessel's grocery store at 701 South Belt West.
Schell said movie patrons were forced to leave quickly by police without a chance for EDGE employees to get their information. But he said he'd like to invite them back for a chance to see the movie uninterrupted. He said they should save their ticket stubs and bring them back to the theater.