Car smashed by collapsing façade, two injuried

A driver and passenger were injured Saturday night when a façade wall at the National School Office Products building, 101 E. Broadway, collapsed and sent bricks tumbling onto Cusick Street.

Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said façade began to fall about 8 p.m. Saturday. The cause is still being investigated. “There are engineers looking at the building,” he said. “As far as what cause it, that’s still being looked at.”

Crisp said that minutes before the wall fell, an MPD officer was at Cusick Street and East Harper Avenue helping call for a wrecker for a disabled vehicle.

“The wrecker was getting ready to hook up to the vehicle, and two ladies in a westbound vehicle on Broadway made a right turn onto Cusick Street, and the wall collapsed,” Crisp said. “Bricks were falling. They hit on top of the car and caved the roof of car in on the two people and trapped them in the vehicle.”

Maryville Fire Department personnel arrived but before they could do anything the wrecker was used to move the vehicle a short distance. “We didn’t know what the structure of the building was like. We had to move the vehicle out of harms way because there were bricks still falling,” Crisp said. “We had to extricate them by using the Jaws of Life.”

The chief said the 34-year-old driver and 23-year-old passenger each complained of neck pain. They were taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance personnel to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Kelli R. Loser, 34, of Eagleton Road, was the driver of the Pontiac Grand Am, and was listed in fair condition early this week. The passenger, who was still in serious condition, is Makashia D. Knotts, 23, of Misty Mountain Drive, Maryville.

Approximately 25 Maryville fire and police personnel responded to the collapse, Crisp said.

Structural engineers were inspecting the building, which is owned by John Nowell. The northbound lane of Cusick could be closed for two to three weeks while repairs to the building are made.

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