BURIEN – A customer backing up to receive a new mattress at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store November 26 instead crashed through the access door and into the store.
The driver wasn’t injured, but a store employee was run over by the van, breaking her arm and both legs, said Ned Delmore, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle-King County. He visited the employee the morning of November 28, before she underwent surgery. “Her spirits are incredible,” he said.
Because of serious structural damage, the Burien store may have to be closed up to a month, a huge hit, especially during the holiday season, according to Delmore. The loss of its $60,000 in monthly sales means fewer families will receive financial assistance to avoid eviction, he said.
The whole event was frightening for those inside the store, he said.
“This van came into the store 60 feet, so people were wondering, ‘What happened here? Are we in danger?’ It was really a very shocking, traumatic thing for people,” Delmore said. (See surveillance video of the crash in the Q13 report below.)
The store manager, who is 8-1/2 months pregnant, was a foot and a half away when the van went speeding by her, Delmore said. “It really freaked her out.” He has also visited her since the accident and said she is doing well.
The Burien store is one of five thrift stores operated by the Seattle-King County SVdP council. Proceeds from the stores help the nonprofit respond to the 40,000 calls for assistance it receives each year on its help line; 20,000 of those come through the 211 crisis line, most of them from women with children, Delmore said.
The St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Burien sustained serious structural damage when a car crashed through the pickup door November 26. Losses from sales at the store will impact the nonprofit’s ability to help area residents facing eviction. Photo: Courtesy King County Sheriff’s Office
The loss of revenue while the Burien store is closed could mean as many as 50 families facing eviction won’t get rent assistance, he noted.
“We’re asking people to support us in any way that they can,” Delmore said.
The Burien store also provides a sense of community for the people who shop there. “People love going in there, they feel welcome,” he said. “For a lot of these folks that don’t have much means, they go in there an buy their [Christmas] gifts.”
And the store’s nine employees will be out of work until the store can reopen. The loss of sales at the store also “will affect our ability to pay our employees,” according to a post on the store’s Facebook page.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make them whole in this thing,” Delmore said. “We do need help.”
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