Leg Cramps, Cough Cause Downtown Crash

OCEAN CITY – Apparent leg cramps and an untimely coughing spell are being blamed for a vehicle leaving Philadelphia Ave. early Monday morning, first striking a telephone pole and crashing into the front porch of a residence.

Around 9 a.m. on Monday, Ocean City resident Paul Michael Toulottei, 51, was driving south on Philadelphia Ave. when he lost control of his vehicle, struck a telephone pole in front of the Ocean City Weekly Rental Office and continued across 7th Street before slamming into the front porch of a residence at 608 Philadelphia Ave. where the wild run ended.

According to police reports, Toulottei was driving down Philadelphia Ave. when he claimed to experience muscle cramps in his left leg. At the same time he bent down to grab his cramping leg, Toulottei began to cough and gag, which caused him to lose control of his vehicle and sent him on a crazy journey through a maze of signs, poles, parked cars and buildings.

According to one witness, it was amazing Toulottei somehow managed to thread the needle between two parked cars before leaving the roadway and striking the telephone pole and the house. Miraculously, no pedestrians or other drivers were struck during the accident considering the time of day and a generally busy part of town. However, the side staircase and the front porch of the residence sustained major damage.

The OCPD and Emergency Services responded to the scene and Toulottei was transported to Atlantic General Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Toulottei has been charged with several misdemeanor traffic offenses including failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision, negligent driving, driving on a sidewalk when prohibited and failure to drive on the right half of the roadway when required.

Monday’s crash was the latest in a recent string of vehicles hitting buildings in Ocean City. On the Fourth of July, for example, volunteer firefighters were forced out of their station on 130th Street after a vehicle slammed into the south wall of the building. In that case, the driver had parked her car in the adjacent parking lot, and when she attempted to back out, she put the car in drive instead of reverse and crashed through the brick wall.

Three days after that incident, a driver was attempting to park her vehicle in front of the Galaxy 66 restaurant on 66th Street when her foot reportedly slipped off the brake and the car lunged through the restaurant’s ground-to-roof window just to the right of the building’s front entrance. Fortunately, the driver was not hurt, nor were any of the restaurant’s patrons or employees injured.

Of course, the most memorable incident of a vehicle hitting a building in Ocean City in recent memory occurred in April 2007 when a reportedly intoxicated driver barreled over the Route 50 bridge, failed to negotiate a turn at the base of the bridge, struck a house and ruptured a gas line causing the home to explode. The residents were home at the time of the explosion, but were able to escape the fire unharmed although their house was destroyed and later torn down.