SUV in Greenfield crashes onto roof of Giant Eagle, forcing a store evacuation
March 8, 2016 5:07 PM
A McGann & Chester crane attempts to remove a Kia SUV from the roof of the Giant Eagle supermarket Tuesday at the corner of Greenfield and Windsor Street following an accident.
Darrell Sapp/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
City firefighters work to contain a fuel spill that resulted when Kia SUV crashed Tuesday onto the roof of the Giant Eagle supermarket at the Greenfield Avenue and Windsor Street.
Employees and customers were evacuated Tuesday from the Greenfield Giant Eagle after a Kia SUV crashed onto the supermarket's roof.
Firefighters tend to a vehicle that drove onto the roof of the Giant Eagle in Greenfield today.
A crew from McCann & Chester lifts a Kia SUV off the roof of the Greenfield Giant Eagle supermarket on Tuesday.
By David Templeton and Andrew Goldstein / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ron Mountin was relaxing inside his apartment this morning in Greenfield when he heard crashing bricks that made him think the chimney on his rental unit had collapsed.
Looking out his second-floor window, he spotted a man standing next to a black Kia Sorento on the rooftop of the Greenfield Giant Eagle at 4250 Murray Ave., which sits just below ground level next door to his apartment.
“I asked him if he needed help but he said he was OK,” said Mr. Mountin, 67.
SUV crashes onto roof of Greenfield Giant Eagle
The crash did puncture the rubber membrane of the supermarket roof, which caused about a 10-inch puddle of gasoline to leak onto a storage area floor in an area where produce is processed. The roof is undergoing repair. (Video by Darrell Sapp)
Emily Schaffer, a spokeswoman with the city’s public safety department, said the 42-year-old man was driving down Greenfield Avenue near the intersection with Windsor Street just before 11:30 a.m. when he was unable to navigate the turn in the road and lost control of his vehicle.
His car scraped inside a red-leaf maple tree, then went airborne over a downslope before crashing through the top of a 3-foot brick wall that surrounds the rooftop, all topped by a chain-link fence, which halted the progress of the SUV once it landed on the roof.
Ms. Schaffer said the uninjured man, who was the sole occupant in the vehicle, would not be identified by police if he is not charged with any crime.
The accident prompted immediate evacuation of the store, which remained closed all afternoon but was scheduled to reopen early this evening, said Giant Eagle spokesman Dick Roberts. He said he was not sure how many employees and customers were in the store at the time of the incident, but no one was hurt.
The crash, however, did puncture the rubber membrane of the supermarket roof, which caused about a 10-inch puddle of gasoline to leak onto a storage area floor in an area where produce is processed. The roof is undergoing repair and city officials made sure the leak was properly cleaned up, Mr. Roberts said.
“Everyone’s safe, there’s no injuries. There’s no problem with any customers or team members,” Mr. Roberts said.
Because of the unusual nature of the accident, experts in several fields had to be called to the scene. They include officials with the fire and police departments, Allegheny County’s hazardous materials team, and the county’s health department. The hazmat and health department officials were to evaluate the situation before allowing the store to reopen.
“I’ve worked [for] Giant Eagle for 20 years,” Mr. Roberts said. “I’ve never heard or seen anything like this.”
Gerard Thiry, owner of Thiry Tree in Hazelwood, stopped at the accident scene out of curiosity and Deputy Fire Chief Michael Mullen accepted his offer to prepare the site to allow the crane to lift the SUV off the rooftop. Mr. Thiry, 52, used a chainsaw to cut down hedges and prune limbs from two red-leaf maple trees without charge to the city. “What I did needed to be done anyway,” he said. “These are beautiful trees.”
That allowed a McGann & Chester crane to back in close enough to the SUV to hoist it off the rooftop, over the wall and onto the neighboring driveway, completing the task two hours after the crash. Traffic including a 58 bus had to be rerouted around the area during the investigation and cleanup.
In 2008, the same store was damaged when a 91-year-old woman drove a Toyota Camry into the front of the store. But Mr. Mountin and other neighbors said the sharp downhill turn in Greenfield Avenue, where the Tuesday accident occurred, has been the scene of six or seven serious crashes during the dozen years he’s lived there, with one maple tree bearing many scars from them. He said something should be done to prevent such crashes that have become routine.
“I was telling someone a week ago that we were due to have someone hit the tree again and then this happened,” he said.
David Templeton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1578. Andrew Goldestein: email@example.com or 412-263-1352.