Big rig crashes into building, injures 5

By Marques White, Weekend morning anchor, reporter, mwhite@wjxt.com
Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 11:17:35 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 24 2014 08:39:26 AM EDT

It's been a landmark in Jacksonville's New Town neighborhood for more than 40 years; now an historic seafood market will have to be demolished after a crash left the building badly damaged - and sent five people to the hospital.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A building in New Town was demolished early Thursday morning, after a tractor-trailer drove right into it.

A tractor-trailer collided with a JTA bus and then crashes into a building in the New Town area, injuring at least five people. The heavily damaged building was demolished early Thursday morning.

The crash happened at West Beaver and Rushing streets just after 5 p.m.

Two adults and a teen on the bus received minor injuries and were transported to a hospital. Officials said the driver of the bus was not injured.

Officials said at least two people were inside the commercial building, which houses a seafood market downstairs and apartments that are under renovation upstairs. Those people were able to exit through the rear of the building and received only minor injuries.

One of those was Robert Jones, who has worked at Discount Seafood for more than 20 years. His sister, Selena Thomas, said she was worried when she heard about the accident.

"I just began to pray," Thomas said. " I mean my brother is a Christian man, and you know, I just began to pray and ask that God -- I heard that five other people was injured -- and I just was praying that they is all covered."

Officials said no one was trapped in the building by the accident, despite the fact it partially collapsed.

"It could have been much worse," said JFRD District Chief Robin Gainey. "Usually when we come by this structure at this time of day there's three to four people sitting outside. They sit around outside the fish market. We were very fortunate that no one was sitting there, no one was impacting by this truck directly."

At one point the semi was leaking diesel fuel, but that's been taken care of. The bigger concern now is the safety of the building.

IMAGES: Semi crashes into building

The semi was removed from the building, and the building was demolished for safety reasons.

"It's unsafe, very unsafe right now," Gainey said. "We're worried about a stronger collapse potential now than with the truck sitting under it. There's also a strong collapse potential at the very roof section that you see hanging down at the corner that we feel pretty strongly about, because it's got about 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of concrete brick hanging onto some material that's broken, so we're worried about that."

The entire block has been blocked off by police to keep people from going anywhere near the scene.

Jennifer Yarbrough told News4Jax her 70-year-old father, Coleman Yarbrough, owns the seafood market and has been at that location for 40 years.

"Most of he families in that neighborhood have bought their groceries from him for years, so everyone in that general area to him is kinda like family," Jennifer Yarbrough said. "He's been in Jacksonville for quite a long time."

She said her father has no plans to retire and often works six days a week from early morning until late.

"He built that business up all by himself from scratch for 40 years, and so many people in that inner city neighborhood right there depended on him," Jennifer Yarbrough said. "(Mayor) Alvin Brown has been in there a few times. That was kinda exciting for him."

It appears the bus and semi were both traveling westbound. There is no word on whether speed was a factor in the wreck.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is handling the traffic investigation.

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