Truck slams into Tims Snack Shack (9/24/09)

Four hurt, one dies from injuries sustained in crash

Sept. 24, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Rescue personnel found a frightening scene at Tim’s Snack Shack Thursday afternoon, after a pickup truck plowed into the roadside eatery and a nearby picnic table, injuring five people.

One of the victims passed away Tuesday afternoon.

The accident occurred around 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, toward the tail end of the lunch rush at Tim’s Snack Shack, said Williston Police Sgt. Scott Graham. According to Graham’s preliminary report, the driver who caused the accident appeared to have suffered a “medical emergency.”

Police are investigating the accident and declined to say if the driver would face charges.

Rescue personnel, along with Williston police officers and 10 firefighters, arrived at Tim’s Snack Shack minutes after receiving the emergency call. Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton said the department considered it a mass casualty incident. The snack shack is located at the junction of U.S. 2 and Industrial Avenue.

According to Snack Shack owner Tim Leggett, two customers had just finished picking up their orders and were on their way to sit at one of the picnic tables when he noticed a truck “out of control.” A white Ford F-150 pickup truck jumped a curb and headed straight for the eatery. Leggett said he shouted to his two employees to get out of the shack and tried to warn his customers, but it was too late.

Graham said the truck smashed into the back of a parked car before hitting the northeast corner of the shack, knocking the small building 4 feet back from its original location. The truck then hit the two customers head on at the picnic table before coming to rest behind the shack on a steep embankment.

Brian Marcelino, 52, of Colchester and Barbara Gregory, 68, of Shelburne were the customers struck. Graham would not go into detail on the victim’s injuries, only saying they were possibly life threatening.

Marcelino and Gregory were transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington soon after the accident.

Gregory later died after succumbing to her injuries.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson with the hospital said Marcelino remained a patient in recovery.

Also injured was Tim’s Snack Shack employee Jason Goddard, who was hurt while escaping the eatery. Leggett hurt his ankle in the accident, as well. Goddard was transported to Fletcher Allen, but was eventually released, police said. Leggett, who walked with a noticeable limp and a bandaged ankle Thursday afternoon, declined transportation to the hospital.

The driver of the pickup truck, Timothy Hill, allegedly told police he had been working at a construction site in South Burlington earlier in the day. Graham said Hill told police he was hit accidently in the head by a shovel and, not feeling well, decided to head home.

While heading east on Williston Road, Hill said he began to feel dizzy and tried to pull off the road, according to Graham. But Hill didn’t make it and does not remember the accident, Graham said.

“Witnesses told me it looked like the driver was unconscious,” Graham said.

Hill was also transported by ambulance to Fletcher Allen and was later released, according to police. Police said Hill tested negative after the accident for drugs and alcohol.

A company logo on the side of the pickup truck said it belonged to Environmental Products & Services of Vermont Inc., located on Commerce Avenue in Williston. The company handles environmentally related spills and waste cleanup projects, with locations throughout the East Coast.

A woman who answered the phone at Environmental Products & Services on Tuesday would neither comment on the accident nor confirm if Hill worked for the company.

Leggett said the accident has closed Tim’s Snack Shack for the year. Leggett added the eatery typically closes toward the end of October. He said the building was a total loss.

The inside of the shack appeared disheveled Thursday afternoon, with debris scattered in every direction. Leggett said the big equipment, such as the Fryolators and grill, would need to be replaced. While he vowed to return next season, Leggett said he was most concerned for his friends who’d been injured.

“I’m feeling terrible for people in the parking lot,” Leggett said on Thursday, adding he planned to visit them in the hospital later in the day.