Updated Monday 11:30 am
A 71-year-old Edgartown man crashed his SUV through the front of Edgartown Meat and Fish, injuring a patron at the coffee bar at about 9:20 am Sunday, according to a police report.
Richard Berkley told police he pressed on the accelerator instead of the brake as he entered a parking spot in front of the store. The Jeep Liberty crashed through the building and struck a 59-year-old man inside.
Edgartown resident Kevin Searle was drinking coffee inside Edgartown Meat and Fish Sunday morning when he heard an engine roar, according to a police report, turned to look behind himself and got knocked to the floor by a vehicle.
Edgartown Police found Searle on the floor by the front left tire of the vehicle, where he was moaning and told them his back was “killing him,” the police report states.
Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer told The Times two people — later identified by police as Searle and Berkley — were taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital by ambulance.
Berkley told police he entered the parking lot with the intention of parking in the handicap spot in front of Edgartown Meat and Fish. “When pulling up, he observed a vehicle exited the spot next to his desired spot. The exiting vehicle was in reverse and coming towards his vehicle with too much speed,” the report states. Worried the other vehicle might hit his, Berkley honked his horn multiple times, according to the report. As he pulled into the spot, “he believed he may have pressed down the accelerator instead of the brake,” the report states. “This caused his vehicle to go out of control, over the curbing and [into] the store.”
Police said there were no signs of impairment, but intend to cite Berkley for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and will seek to have his license suspended or revoked as an “immediate threat,” according to the report.
Former Oak Bluffs Police Chief Joseph Carter told The Times he was enjoying a bagel and coffee when he heard the vroom of an engine — ”sounded like a plane,” he said.
“I was sitting on the corner table by myself, and then the glass came flying. A bullet of glass went through my coffee cup,” he said.
Factoring in the width of the table he sat at, Carter estimated the Jeep came within two and a half feet from him. He said he jumped up and told the driver to stay put. In addition to Searle, another man, whom Carter described as “in his 20s,” appeared to have been struck by flying debris.
“My hand, my hand,” he recalled the young man saying. Carter also recalled the young man refused medical attention.
Carter said he went outside to keep people from entering. He told the first police officer on scene to ready his medical kit, and asked the officer to make sure paramedics were en route.
In a previous configuration of the Edgartown Meat and Fish Cafe, Carter recalled seating situated behind the bay window the Jeep smashed through. Had someone been behind the window when the Jeep crashed through, they would have been launched into the menu blackboards like a missile, he said. Carter reflected that someone was almost him.
“Wasn’t my time,” he said.
Another witness told police she heard the vehicle’s horn “for a long period of time, and then it just went across the parking lot at a high rate of speed, jumping the curb,” according to the report. “At no point did she see the vehicle slow down prior to hitting the building.”
Edgartown Meat and Fish has a coffee counter attached that serves Starbucks coffee and bagels.
The SUV was pulled from the building by JWL Transport, Chief Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer said Deputy Andrew Kelly was the first to arrive on the scene. Schaeffer was holding a meeting with his deputies at the time of the incident.
Schaeffer said the fire department had the building evacuated, and called in health agent Matt Poole and building inspector Lenny Jason to assess the damage. After evaluating the scene, they decided it would be best for the business to close.
Construction crews were on the scene at Edgartown Fish and Meat later in the morning Sunday, putting up plywood to cover the hole.
Poole told The Times Monday morning that owner Erin Ready and manager Sam Shattuck took the initiative to discard a great many items, from prepackaged sandwiches to paper coffee cups to candy, and that they were very cooperative with Poole about what else might need to be “embargoed and disposed,” Poole said.
Sean Ready, owner, told The Times Wednesday he hopes to reopen on Thursday. He said there are a few more inspections to get through. The work was just approved by the building inspectors, and the health department is inspecting Wednesday afternoon. “I’m really happy everyone is OK,” Ready said. “Hopefully we’ll get back to normal soon. I also really want to thank the first responders, they were great.”
Berkley and Searle were both released from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, director of communications Katrina Delgadillo told The Times Monday morning.
Fire right after crash
It was a hectic morning for the Edgartown Fire Department. At 10:30 am, the department responded to an automatic fire alarm at a Road to the Plains residence. When firefighters arrived, they found a fire inside the house.
While the cause remains under investigation, Chief Schaeffer told The Times that a log appears to have rolled out of a wood stove, where it ignited the floor and filled the house with smoke.
“The crew was able to knock it down with a water can extinguisher,” Schaeffer said.
Updated to provide details from an eyewitness.