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SUV crashes into Carbondale restaurant, forces temporary closure

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crash pic
(Courtesy Ariel Moyer)

CARBONDALE, Ill. (WSIL) -- The owner and employees of a small sandwich shop in Carbondale were picking up the pieces Thursday after an SUV came crashing through the front window at lunch time.

It happened at Emma & Arnie's on South Illinois Avenue.

The owner, Maria Lass, was in the back busy fulfilling call-in orders when she heard the crash.

"I hear a very loud sound and I was like, 'What is that? That's not normal,'" Lass said. "I walk out front, and there is a vehicle busted through our window."

The force of the crash took out a facing bathroom wall and severely damaged a second bathroom and the furnace above the ceiling. Water began to leak from the bathroom into the back stock room before they were able to shut the water off.

Lass said the crash happened about three feet away from a soda cooler, which was being stocked by an employee at the time.

"The cooler is right here. That was pretty scary for her," Lass said.

Employee Ariel Moyer said she spoke to the driver and passenger inside the SUV who appeared to be unharmed.

"I talked to both of the people in the car. They were both okay. They were really upset," Moyer said. "I ask them what happened. She said, 'I thought my foot was on the break, and I guess it wasn't.'"

Even though it was a busy lunchtime for the restaurant, management had decided not to opt for dine-in and that may have been fortunate for the time of the crash.

"We're not dining-in right now. We're still scared about the coronavirus," Moyer said.

Moyer said the SUV was able to drive away on its own power.

It's unclear what the official cause of the crash was determined to be by police, or if the driver faces any citations. News 3 reached out to Carbondale officials for comment and have not heard back.

Lass said she doesn't want to close after pandemic restrictions and the economic slowdown, but this latest blow will force a temporary closure for repairs.

"We're going to do what we can to open back up," Lass said.

Lass said to check the restaurant's Facebook page and Instagram for updates on reopening.

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Jonathan Brines

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