Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Six people suffered injuries after a pickup truck veered through traffic and crashed through the wall of a bar Wednesday afternoon in Little Canada, pinning patrons against the bar, authorities said.
Randy Gustafson, of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, said police officers and medics responded to the crash, which happened shortly after 1:30 p.m. at a bar called Gordie’s Place, located at 201 Little Canada Road East.
The Sheriff’s Office said a 49-year-old woman was driving east on Little Canada Road when her pickup crossed the westbound lanes, knocked over a power pole, crashed through the bar’s west wall and slammed into four people at the bar, pinning them against and behind it.
Patrick Sazenski, a bartender at Gordie’s Place, said he was inside the bar when the crash happened.
“It just happened so quick,” he said. “You didn’t have time to react.”
Surveillance video, which can be watched above, shows how quickly the pickup plowed through the wall and into the bar.
“We were sitting there and the next thing I know I see a pole flying through the parking lot,” Sazenski said. “Then I hear this bang and I look and this truck is flying through the wall.”
Although the cause of the crash is unknown, the Sheriff’s Office said medical reasons appear to have played a factor.
Jim Cossack, whom police described as a Good Samaritan, used a Bobcat to move the pick up just enough to free those who were trapped.
Cossack, who is also the son of the bar’s owner, was behind the bar, loading a bobcat excavator onto a trailer when the crash happened.
“My girlfriend screamed when she saw the car come across the lot and go into the building,” he said. “I ran inside and shut off the power.”
He said he couldn’t believe people were trapped behind the bar.
“That’s when I ran back out got in the Bobcat…and backed [the pickup] up enough to release the pressure off the people,” he said.
After moving the truck, he ran back inside the bar to turn off the water and gas “to make sure nothing would blow up.”
Medics treated those injured at the scene. The people pinned down by the truck were taken to an emergency room. First responders extracted the pickup driver from the truck, placed her on a stretcher and brought her to Regions Hospital. Medics also brought five people, who suffered injuries inside the bar, to a hospital. Two of those injured in the bar suffered serious injuries, police said, but none were considered life-threatening.
Ana Diaz said her friend Keith was one of the people trapped inside. She said he is recovering at the hospital.
“What he told me is that he was squished between the bar, the chair, and the car,” Diaz said. “And just a millimeter more and he would be dead.”
Bar owner Tom Cossak said Gordie’s Place could re-open in a few days; but, at the moment, he’s thinking about his customers who were caught in the middle of the crash.
“It’s a terrible thing you know,” Cossack said. “You hate to have people come into your bar and then get hurt while they are sitting in the bar.”
Cossack said his thoughts and prayers are with those customers and the driver.
Photos show that his bar sustained damage.
The Little Canada Fire Department also responded to the incident, because of reports that gas was leaking from the pickup, police said. Budget Towing removed the pickup from inside the building, and Xcel Energy cut and removed the downed power lines from the road.
Authorities closed Little Canada Road for about 90 minutes following the crash.
Police have not yet identified the pickup’s driver or those who were injured.
The crash is still under investigation.