Drugs suspected in car vs. building crash in Oak Park Heights

A 2014 Cadillac crashed into the southeast corner of the Super America store at 14493 60th St. N. in Oak Park Heights May 1. Authorities suspect drugs were a factor. (Photo courtesy of the Oak Park Heights Police Department)

A car crashed through the wall of a Super America gas station in Oak Park Heights May 1, after crossing the median of Highway 36 and multiple lanes of traffic.

No one was seriously injured, but the driver, a 36-year-old from Edina, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol’s incident report, authorities suspect he had been taking illicit drugs. Court records show the suspect pleaded guilty to felony-level drug sales in 2012.

The State Patrol says the suspect was going west in the right lane on Highway 36 in a 2014 Cadillac around 4:15 p.m. Monday, May 1. He rear-ended another vehicle before veering left and accelerating, crashing through the center median ditch and across the eastbound lanes of Highway 36, heading southwest, according to the report.

The suspect’s vehicle continued in an erratic manner, crossing the south frontage road, driving through the Taco Bell parking lot, going over curb and grass, and crossing Omaha Avenue before crashing into the southeast corner of Super America, the report says.

Authorities say the suspect exhibited “numerous indicators of impairment,” and he was booked and released after providing a blood sample for testing.

According to the office of the Oak Park Heights city prosecutor, he was cited for misdemeanor DWI by the State Patrol, but the prosecutor’s office will review the case to see if more serious charges are warranted.

Gas station manager Chelsea Lindberg said the car destroyed a bathroom in the store.

“The whole wall pushed in, and our whole ceiling collapsed in there,” she said. “We are getting a whole new bathroom currently.”

The store closed for two-and-a-half to three hours, she said.

“I had to shut water off to the entire store, because there were open wires and water everywhere.”

The cost has yet to be determined, but it could have been worse, Lindberg said. The car missed hitting a gas meter only feet away.

“It was really, really close, but he actually only took out the condensing unit for our cooler and our sprinkler system, and some of the piping for the bathroom,” Lindberg said. “We’re just gratefully that no one was dramatically injured.”

A statement released by the Oak Park Heights Police Department said the incident occurred during heavy traffic.

“This is a grim reminder to pay attention to your surroundings and other traffic,” the police statement said. “This was pure luck the driver of this car did not hit some other driver head on or run over a pedestrian. Stop yourself and others from driving impaired — drugs or alcohol. It is just not worth it.”

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]