As of Tuesday afternoon The Leading Lady is the area’s only drive-through antique shop.
“I was just working at the computer and I felt the building shake,” Gerlach and Gerlach Law Office secretary Joyce Lewis said. “And I’m in a completely different section of the building.”
She was describing the incident in which a vehicle plowed through the front window and was buried deep into the store at Seventh and Chillicothe streets, that specializes in antiques and name brand collectibles.
Attorney Cynthia Gerlach operates the business and stood in the middle of the room, feet from the vehicle, assessing the damages.
“It was antiques, but they took away a whole section of the showcase that involved all the figurines and then the table with all cut glass was taken,” Gerlach said. “I have pairs of lamps and they got one of the pair and then I don’t know all that was on the front. There were things here I just love that I wouldn’t put up in the window for fear that something would happen. This is the worst of the worst of the worst.”
The vehicle that came through the store was a GMC Yukon XL, driven by Chris Bennett.
“I was just driving through the intersection and I caught that fraction of a glimpse, where it was, like someone coming and that was it,” Bennett told the Daily Times. “I just remember a crash and looking up and the first thing I said when I got out of my car was – ‘my light was green.’”
Bennett said he often drives down Chillicothe Street going back to his house from Scioto Trail.
Bennett said a man witnessed the crash and said the other vehicle ran a red light, but he then left the scene.
That scenario appeared to be disputed by the driver of the other vehicle, a Chevrolet Equinox, operated by Lacy Helton.
Helton appeared to have suffered an injury to her leg, but appeared to be okay otherwise. The Portsmouth Police officers at the scene were discussing the two stories as to which driver ran the traffic light, and they had not determined which had occurred.
The Portsmouth Fire Department was at the scene and Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison was assessing the damages.
“Right now we’re just trying to help the business owner salvage what valuables there are there,” Raison said. “Once we are here and assess injuries, then once PA (Portsmouth Ambulance) gets here, we pass it off to them.”
Raison said his department’s job is to secure the scene and assist those involved in the investigation.
“We’ll probably stand by until they get that thing out of there in case some kind of issue occurred,” Raison said. “It didn’t hit anything structurally. That’s definitely a concern when a car goes into a building as to whether or not it has damaged anything structurally.”
It was attorney Frank Gerlach who tried to lend a light note to the situation
“We have the only drive-through antique shop in the area,” Gerlach said.
The crash remains under investigation by the Portsmouth Police Department.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.