Truck clips light pole, plows into police station

Published 9:34 pm Friday, January 29, 2010

A Dairyman’s Supply Company truck with an empty trailer was southbound on Cedar Avenue in Demopolis when it lost control, sheared a highway sign and struck a utility pole before plowing into the municipal complex at the intersection of Washington Street on Friday at about 11:15 a.m.

The driver was identified as Tony Richey of Glencoe. No other information was available about the accident, which is under investigation by the Demopolis Police Department.

One person working on a scaffolding in the building was slightly injured, but no other injuries were reported. The truck came to rest within 10 feet of Demopolis police chief Tommie Reese’s office, which Reese was in at the time of the accident.

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“He took out a bunch of our work,” said James Calhoun of Revon Bigham Construction. “We’re going to be rebuilding again. He took out a complete support beam, too. He came through the wall, but we were actually going to have to demolish that wall eventually.”

“At this point, he took out a few things that we were taking out, anyway,” said Brian Brooker, the senior project manager for Ellis Architects. “Right now, we’re going to assess the structure of the building and make sure that the low beam column has been taken out and the beam that is supporting the roof is held in place. So, we’re going to ask them not to move the truck or do anything until our structural engineer gets down here and takes a look at it. Right now, that truck is helping to hold that roof up.

The accident also took out a lot of the old electrical panels that were still in use and hadn’t been transferred over yet as well as some of the new components.

“We decided to go ahead and cut power to the whole building so we know we’ve got it all off,” Brooker added.

The police station will be closed at least throughout the weekend while architects and structural engineers work to ensure the safety and stability of the building.

“Hopefully, we will open back Monday,” Reese said. “We’re trying to get the truck out of the building and make sure the building is stable. If anyone needs to contact the police during this time, they can call 911.”

The building has been undergoing renovations and is planned to house the police department and the city courtroom and its offices. The project date of completion was Feb. 10, but that, now, is likely to change.

Dairyman’s Supply is a wholesale lumber company with offices in Gadsden and Mayfield, Ky. The truck had just unloaded at Dozier Hardware in Demopolis and was on its way to Tuscaloosa when the accident happened, according to company dispatcher and logistics manager Jimmy McGinnis.

City court clerk Karen Broadhead and Demopolis City Council member Bill Meador said the members of the city building committee had just had a meeting earlier that morning to discuss the progress of the building’s renovations.