January 23, 2009

Drunk driver crashes into 53rd Street store

A shuttle bus crashed through the East 53rd Street storefront of The Great Frame Up on Saturday, breaking the legs of a 60-year-old pedestrian and cutting an employee with flying glass. The driver, 68-year-old William Byndum, was charged with driving under the influence and negligent driving, according to the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The bus contained no passengers at the time.

The bus first struck a man on the sidewalk, and then smashed through the window and some drywall a few feet into the store, according to store manager Marcus Warren. “Both of his legs were clearly broken, and his head was stuck between the bumper and the counter,” Warren said of the victim. “His face was pretty bloody.” Paramedics took the man, still conscious, to Mount Sinai hospital, the CPD said.

The crash occurred at 1418 East 53rd street at 3:15 pm, while two employees and a visiting former manager were inside the shop. Warren was in the back room of the store when the bus hit. “First I heard the glass breaking, and I could feel the building kind of shake,” he said.

Cheryl Carter, another store employee, was standing next to the window at the time of the crash. She narrowly escaped by crowding into a tight corner nearby, but was showered with glass. “I had my back to the window,” said Carter. “I just heard a boom and glass started falling. I didn’t even see it happen.” Despite cuts, bruises, and a major gash on her shoulder, Carter returned to work on Monday.

Though shaken, the employees cleaned up the store that night, boarded up the window, and were open for business the next day. “We mostly just want to make sure people know we’re still open,” owner Mark Jelke said.

While the store has a sign announcing it's still open, Warren said he expects business to slow.

“Most of our business is people who look in through the window walking by, so this has hampered business a bit,” he said.

Warren estimated the repairs will take about a week to complete, and said that everyone is coping well with the situation. “He seems in decent spirits,” Warren said of Jelke. “He’s a pretty laid back guy.”

Covenant Transport, the company that owns the bus, could not be reached for comment. Byndum will appear in traffic court on February 20.