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Building collapse causes traffic tieups

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: May 05 2014 04:31:58 AM CDT
Updated On: May 05 2014 07:20:49 AM CDT

Building collapse causes traffic tieups

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. -

Crews say they'll be able to save a historic building that collapsed onto a vehicle in Warren County, New Jersey.

The building came down after a sport utility vehicle slammed into it early Saturday morning in Phillipsburg.

Police believe the man behind the wheel was driving under the influence.

The crash happened at 11 Union Square, a collection of 19th century buildings near the foot of the Phillipsburg-Easton Free Bridge.

Just after 3 a.m. Saturday, an SUV drove across the bridge and slammed into the building's corner, causing all three floors to collapse onto the vehicle, according to Phillipsburg Police Lt. John Maczko.

Police said the driver, Vincent T. King, Jr., 22, of West Easton, only suffered minor injuries.

King was being treated at St. Luke's Hospital-Warren, according to Maczko.

Police said King has been charged with DUI and resisting arrest.

Maczko said King borrowed the car from a female friend.

He said it is not clear how fast the car was traveling, although police are reviewing security camera footage along the Free Bridge.

King tried to run away from the scene until a police officer tackled him, according to Phillipsburg Mayor Harry Wyant. " He tried to get away,ยจ said Wyant. "It was hard to subdue him."

Court records indicate King's drivers license was revoked for a year after he pleaded guilty to a separate DUI in January.

That case happened in Easton last fall.

The building was being renovated by Jim Guerra, a Bucks Co. architect who estimated he has already spent close to $40,000 on interior repairs.

According to Guerra, inspectors have determined that the building can restored.

Guerra said the plan is to remove the damaged portions of the building, before putting up shoring and pulling out the vehicle.

"My head is, 'okay, how are we going to rebuild it and what do we want it to look like on the outside?" Guerra said.

Curious neighbors crowded around the collapsed historic building all day.

"That's crazy," said neighbor Kim Fulwiler. "That's about it."

Saturday afternoon, crews delicately removed a rare and expensive Italian motorcycle, dangling precariously from the collapsed building.

The building contains several other collectible bikes as well.

"Giacomo Agostini was a very famous motorcycle racer, and he won many, many championships," said Guerra. "So this was a dedicated model to him."

Guerra said the bike suffered cosmetic damage. It appears the bike did not sustain any structural or mechanical damage.

Many neighbors were thankful the crash happened at such a late hour.

The intersection is one of the busiest in Phillipsburg.

"Me and my grand-kids -- we always ride our bikes right down here -- almost every weekend," said neighbor Bobby Cassidy. "Glad we weren't there today."

Mayor Wyant said it is too early to tell how long Main Street in the area will be closed. Wyant said drivers should plan accordingly.