McHenry Starbucks crash 911 calls: 'I just saw them going out of control and crashing into the building'

  • Personnel work at the scene in McHenry where a vehicle drove into the Starbucks on Elm Street the evening of Jan. 16.

    Personnel work at the scene in McHenry where a vehicle drove into the Starbucks on Elm Street the evening of Jan. 16. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
By Nabiha Asim
Shaw Media
Updated 1/28/2020 6:31 AM

Emergency calls to 911 reporting that a pickup truck had plowed into a Starbucks coffee shop in McHenry paint a picture of panic and disbelief as routine coffee runs that afternoon turned into chaos.

The Northwest Herald obtained copies Thursday of 11 calls to 911 through a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the Starbucks crash that occurred about 4:40 p.m. Jan. 16 at the shop just east of the intersection of West Elm Street and Oak Drive.

 

A host of noises, yelling and sirens could be heard from the crash scene during some of the 911 calls. Some callers sounded panicked as 911 dispatchers responded to the emergency.

When asked if anyone was injured, one caller told a dispatcher that a person was stuck underneath the truck. The caller told the dispatcher that he "was hit by flying rubble" and believes two people were injured at the time.

Another caller witnessed the crash from outside the store.

"I just saw them going out of control and crashing into the building," the caller said of the as-yet-unidentified Wonder Lake man driving the pickup truck. The truck was "partway into the building," he said.

Several people called to report the crash and to ensure help was on the way. Dispatchers assured all callers that emergency response vehicles were on their way. As callers reported the emergency to authorities, many 911 dispatchers could be heard in the background of these calls responding to other callers. Dispatchers asked those initial callers if they were involved or witnessed the crash.

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One caller who witnessed the crash told a dispatcher it was "horrible."

Another caller was heard breathing heavily when she called 911. When the dispatcher asked her about the emergency, no response was heard for several seconds. After the caller finally replied "Hello," sounding panicked, the call suddenly disconnected.

The Northwest Herald also requested police reports about this crash from the McHenry Police Department. McHenry police FOIA officer Roger Pechous said the Major Crash Investigation Team has not yet sent the police reports. The police reports are expected to be finalized by the end of the week.

Members of the McHenry County Regional Major Crash Investigation Team determined the cause of the crash was an unspecified medical problem suffered by the pickup driver, a 53-year-old man who used to live in Lakemoor, police said the day after the crash.

Five people were reported injured. McHenry police have not released their names. Two of whom initially were listed in critical condition before later being upgraded. Without their names, hospital officials cannot say whether all of these individuals have been treated and released, or whether any remain hospitalized.

McHenry police have said the pickup driver was not ticketed or charged. Alcohol or drugs were not believed to have played a role in the crash.

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