Mike Salah was thankful for the timing of an incident Wednesday afternoon when a car crashed through the Phone Pandora store at Wade Square Shopping Center.
“We are the luckiest people today,” said Salah, whose son Sam owns the store. “Tomorrow, the place would have been filled with people.”
A fixture in the shopping center for the last 12 years, it was the center of attention after an elderly woman accidentally drove her red Toyota Camry into the lobby of the business, which is near the intersection of North Belt East and Lebanon Avenue. No one was injured in the crash, but the store was heavily damaged.
The woman involved in the crash was OK and walking on her own after the incident. The woman, who store employees said is a regular customer of the store, declined to speak about what happened.
Julia Dale, who works in sales at the store, was helping a customer when the crash happened. She said she was no more than 10 feet from the spot where the car crashed into the lobby.
“I was talking to a friend who was looking to get a phone for his cousin,” Dale said. “I saw the red car come barreling through. I don’t know if she mistook the gas pedal for the brake pedal or what, but she just barreled right through the store.”
Neither Dale nor the lone customer were injured. The only other person in the store at the time was a technician, who was in the back area of the business.
“Thank God, no one was hurt,” said Dale, who has worked at the store for two years.
Had the crash happened on Thursday, the first day of the month, the scene might have been very different, said Manoj Ramudamu. He said customers would have likely been lined up to pay their bills in the area where the crash took place.
“The first is our busiest day of the month,” said Ramudamu, who is vice president of sales for Phone Pandora. “By the grace of God, no one was hurt.”
The Wade Square location is one of six Phone Pandora locations in the area. Ramudamu said the company might look into renting a spot near Wade Square in order to continue to serve the neighborhood while the store is fixed.
The Belleville Fire Department and Belleville Police Department responded to the scene around 2:45 p.m. The scene drew many onlookers and slowed traffic on North Belt East, as drivers slowed to get a look at the back end of the car sticking out of the building.