OCEAN CITY – In a bizarre accident in Ocean City this week, an elderly man apparently lost consciousness and then control of a large commercial dump truck he was driving, striking another vehicle stopped at an intersection before crashing into a first-floor condominium unit.
Around 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Ocean City Police and the Ocean City Fire Department responded to a reported collision involving a dump truck and a condominium building on 65th Street. The preliminary investigation revealed the commercial dump truck, driven by an 80-year-old man whose name has not been released, was heading southbound on Coastal Highway when it struck a Honda Accord stopped at a red light.
The collision forced the Honda, driven by an unidentified 82-year-old woman, into the intersection.
The dump truck then careened to the left across the northbound lanes of Coastal Highway, drove over the sidewalk on the northbound side and crashed into the first floor of the Sand Pebble Condominium before coming to a stop. Miraculously, the truck did not strike any other vehicles on the northbound side of the highway.
Ocean City Fire Department personnel and EMTs extricated the unidentified driver from the truck, the entire cab section of which was lodged in the first floor of the building. The entire front end, including the windshield, was crushed and remained inside the two first-floor units for well over an hour before a tow company removed the vehicle.
The driver of the truck was transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center for treatment of unknown non-life-threatening injuries. Meanwhile, the elderly driver of the car struck by the truck was examined at the scene by paramedics and did not require further treatment.
The Ocean City Police traffic safety unit is investigating the accident, but the preliminary investigation revealed the driver of the dump truck might have suffered from a medical condition, which caused him to lose consciousness just prior to the accident, according to police reports. However, no charges had been filed, nor were any expected to be filed, as of mid-week.
Police and fire crews remained on the scene for several hours throughout the morning as traffic backed up on the northbound side of Coastal Highway. In addition, city engineer’s staff remained on scene evaluating the structural damage of the building. The two units struck directly by the truck were unoccupied at the time, but some of the other units were occupied.
By Wednesday, the Sand Pebble condo building was not allowed to be occupied, according to City Engineer Terry McGean, who said the building would likely survive the collision, but there were several structural, electrical and plumbing issues to be resolved before it could be occupied again.
“The major issues are three-fold,” he said. “In the area where the truck hit the building was a major electrical panel that needs to be checked out thoroughly before it can be even considered for occupancy. In addition, there was a bathroom in the area where the truck struck the building and they have to do a thorough inspection and cap any lines that were broken.”
In terms of the structure itself, McGean said there was no indication in the initial inspection to suggest the building would have to be torn down.
“The good news is, no load-bearing walls were damaged significantly and there is no major damage to the primary framing of the structure,” he said. “However, there was structural damage to the stairs and landings on that part of the building that provide egress to the other units of the building that will have to be repaired before it can be occupied again.”