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Posted: April 11, 2013 Car Crashes into Eau Claire City Hall



                                                               Car Crashes into Eau Claire City Hall


Car vs City Hall

By Eric Lindquist Leader-Telegram staff


An Eau Claire motorist veered off East Grand Avenue at about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday and crashed her vehicle into the south side entrance of City Hall.

No passers-by or occupants of the building were injured, said Dave White-horse, an Eau Claire Fire Depart-ment equipment operator who was assisting with the car's removal.

The unusual sight of a blue Pontiac Firebird suspended several feet in the air, with its rear right panel hanging over a concrete wall and its front end buried in the remains of the vestibule entryway extending outside of the city's Community Development office, attracted dozens of onlookers on a chilly Tuesday evening as emergency workers prepared to tow the car.

The crash startled Salina Heller, communications and promotions coordinator for Downtown Eau Claire Inc., whose office is just a few feet inside the door where the crash occurred.

"I was just sitting in my office working and suddenly heard a very loud crash," Heller said. "I wasn't sure what happened, but it scared me."

Heller noted that she was lucky because she often parks right in the area where the vehicle apparently left the roadway, knocked over a parking sign, sped through a small parking area and leapt over a foot-tall concrete barrier and into what used to be the entrance to the children's department of the former Eau Claire public library. The entrance is about 25 feet from the curb on the north side of the 400 block of East Grand Avenue.

The crash occurred during Tuesday afternoon's City Council meeting, though members were unaware of the collision until about 6:15 p.m. when city manager Russell Van Gompel interrupted the meeting to make an announcement.

"The vehicle has impacted the building. We are safe. They're trying to get the car removed," he said

Council President Kerry Kincaid then asked anyone parked near the crash site to move their cars to help emergency workers.

Denise M. Marten, 42, the sole occupant of the car, sustained "very minor" injuries and was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence third offense, possession of drug paraphernalia and abuse of hazardous substances, according to a news release from Lt. Derek Thomas of the Eau Claire Police Department.

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