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'It could have been really bad'

Becky Vargo • Oct 4, 2017 at 10:57 AM

A car crashed through the wall of a Grand Haven business on Wednesday morning. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The incident occurred at about 10:30 a.m. at the Peace at Home Caregivers in the shopping center on the northwest corner of Robbins Road and Beacon Boulevard (U.S. 31). 

This is the second time in just over a month that a vehicle has driven through the wall of a local business. On Aug. 23, a car crashed into the Jeske Pool & Spas building, 225 N. Ferry St. 

In Wednesday’s incident, Charlotte Whittaker said she was working on her computer when she heard a loud crash.

“I turned and the whole top half of my desk is flying off,” she said.

Whittaker was not hit by the car or debris, but was trapped between the car and her desk.

“She started revving the engine,” Whittaker said of the driver. “She tried to put it in reverse and it started smoking. I yelled at her to stop.”

Jeff Orr, who was at a business next door with his wife when they heard the crash, quickly offered assistance, moving debris out of the way and helping Whittaker out of the building.

“I thought thunder hit the building,” Orr said of the crash.

He and his wife looked out the door and saw the car sticking out of the building. Orr said he ran inside and looked around.

“I seen her stuck in the corner,” he said of Whittaker. “I moved some stuff out of the way and told her to jump on over and hang onto me. That car was honestly less than 2 feet away from her. She was a very, very lucky lady.”

Another lucky woman was the receptionist at Peace at Home Caregivers, who 90 percent of the time sits at the desk where the car landed, said Sgt. Lee Adams of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

“It could have been really bad,” he said.

The receptionist, Tara Schuler, had just stepped away from her desk, according to Whittaker.

“But by the grace of God, she was in my office,” said Lee Patterson, the human resources coordinator for the business.

Patterson said they heard a big crash “and everybody came running out.”

Adams said the incident occurred when a 68-year-old Grand Haven Township woman was attempting to park her car to go into a nearby business.

“She thought she was putting her car into park and hitting the brake,” Adams said. He said they believed she hit the gas instead.

Police helped the woman from her car. She walked to a waiting North Ottawa Community Hospital ambulance to be checked over by paramedics.

Grand Haven building inspector Phil Brummel later gave the OK for employees to go back into the building.

Business owners Laura Lutz and Janna Ortiz expressed relief that everyone was OK. They said employees would continue to work out of other areas until the office was cleaned and the building boarded up.

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