Most people go to the library expecting a quiet, relaxing area in which to conduct work or research, or to read a new or favorite book in. It makes sense, presumably, as these types of activities are exactly what libraries are setup for. Unfortunately for half a dozen people in Spring Valley, NY, however, Tuesday evening was anything but relaxing.
Around 7:45pm, a Toyota RAV4 SUV slammed into the Finkelstein Memorial Library. The vehicle ran through several glass windows and the main circulation desk, where library attendees were checking out their books, before coming to a stop. Luckily, the crash was non-fatal, and no life-threatening injuries were sustained. That said, six people were still taken to the hospital with some degree of injury after the crash. The worst of it went to a local teen of just 15 years of age, who was pinned under the vehicle – though it is not known exactly how or for how long – until rescue workers could use airbags to lift the vehicle and pull her free.
The library director, Tracy Allen, spoke with reporters and relayed that no one inside the library saw the vehicle coming until it was too late.
Police and wreckage crews worked to quickly clean the scene, but full repairs to the entrance are still a ways off. The library has been closed for a day now, and despite hoping to resume operations this Thursday, no definite date has been set, and the crash site will have to be fully repaired, and likely re-enforced, before anything is set in stone.
As for how the accident happened, police conducted an initial investigation and interview with the driver at the scene, but found no evidence of drugs or alcohol. The driver blamed mechanical failure, apparently, saying it contributed to his loss of control of his vehicle. Police say he alluded to the Toyota recalls in recent years, saying that the vehicle may have been affected , though it was unclear whether he had done anything in response to the recall or not. After the crash, the driver complained of chest pains but was not immediately taken for medical attention and did not appear seriously injured.
While not much was reported about the actual stretch of road the vehicle veered from before colliding with the library, the surrounding terrain may offer some defense for the driver. The library had previously constructed two concrete pillars on the same side of the building as the crash site, in hopes of stopping similar situations from occurring. In this case, the pillars proved ineffective as the SUV barreled between them, but their presence shows that the planners for the library must have felt the stretch of roadway on that side was potentially dangerous, or they wouldn’t have erected the barriers in the first place.
In the past, road segments with especially sharp turns and/or variable speed limits may have contributed to vehicle-to-building crashes. For the time being, however, the library and its staff are simply focused on rebuilding and moving forward.