By Bobby Bordelon
An early morning wreck left April’s Pizzeria in White Sulphur Springs with substantial damage on Tuesday, July 7. Although owner Lisa Long is uncertain how soon the restaurant will be able to reopen, local police were able to take suspect Julius Andrew Brown Jr. into custody with help from bystanders throughout White Sulphur Springs.
At approximately 6 a.m., a maroon Chevy pick up truck drove through a wall into the pizzeria, leaving the restaurant’s owners with a mess to clean.
Long explained she felt “shock” but was “thankful that nobody was in the building, thankful that it wasn’t lunch time. Nobody got hurt. Things happened, but we’re still feeling blessed because we still have a building to come back to and none of our customers were harmed.”
The clean up and damage assessment process began Tuesday, with boards covering the now exposed dining room and a barrier wall in place, and Long is hopeful for a swift reopening.
“We haven’t really determined when we’re going to be able to reopen. Possibly Friday, it depends on the structure of the building,” Long said. “We have to make sure it’s sound before we’ll allow customers back in for their safety. … There’s a crack going all the way down the wall and we don’t know what’s under the roof yet.”
Long described her impressions of the moments before the accident.
“From what I can gather, the driver was up on the work area of the interstate,” Long said. “He rear-ended somebody, apparently, and was fleeing the scene from there. I guess, just speeding down through here, he lost control and took out our building.”
According to a criminal complaint filed by Patrolman Devin Johnson, at 6 a.m., a maroon Chevy pickup truck drove through the side of the pizzeria and Johnson pursued.
“As I approached the location of the accident, bystanders were waving and pointing in the direction that the vehicle had driven past,” reads the complaint. “… The driver continued on Route 60 Eastbound onto the interstate ramp entering a one lane construction zone. As we entered the interstate the driver made an attempt to proceed but was hindered by a blown tire on the front of the truck.”
The blown tire turned the truck around, now directly driving west towards Johnson on the eastbound lane.
“The driver then uncontrollably turned laterally on the interstate lane,” the compliant reads. “… After hitting the guard rail on the median side of the lane, the driver then finally came to a stop.”
The driver was identified as Brown and was taken into custody by Johnson and Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Deputy Zach Hudnall. Brown was charged with felony destruction of property and fleeing from an officer. After paying a $10,000 cash bond, Brown was released at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday.
Now waiting on damage assessments, Long explained that despite the damage, one emotionally important section of the building remained intact.
“Me and my daughter, who has passed, put the mortar up in there, so as long as that’s still intact, I’m okay. It wasn’t damaged at all, so I’m good,” Long said.
Photos and video courtesy of Lisa Long.