State police responded to a single-vehicle crash at the gift shop on Route 9 at approximately 9:45 pm. Police say Frederick Bump, 67, of Brattleboro, was driving a 2013 Subaru XCV when he lost control due to slush alongside the road while traveling east. Bump’s Subaru crashed into the store, smashing a 15-foot section of the store’s exterior wall, and totaling his vehicle.
Owner Ed Metcalfe was notified of the accident just after 10 pm by Mutual Aid, and hurried to the store he’s run since 2002. While there were no injuries to Bump and the store was closed at the time, Metcalfe found a portion of his store was a colossal, sticky mess.
“There were two shelving units full of jam and jelly there,” said Metcalfe, “and two large wine racks with around 160 bottles of wine. The impact turned all of that shelving into kindling, and it was just incredible, the force exerted there.”
The vehicle took out an eight-foot portion of the exterior wall, as well as a window, and caused six to eight feet of wall on either side of the impact to bow in. Pieces of the old shelf had jelly smeared on them, while the bottles of syrup, jam, jelly, and wine were smashed on the floor. Debris, mainly glass and wood, was also projected throughout the store. Metcalfe estimates the amount of merchandise lost is between $3,000 and $4,000, and $2,000 in display material. Damage to the building itself is hard to estimate, but Metcalfe said he wouldn’t be surprised if it reached $10,000. Metcalfe said that his business is insured for this kind of damage.
This was the last piece in a rocky Friday the 13th for Metcalfe, who found a crack in his home furnace that morning and whose plow hydraulics decided to malfunction on the eve of a nor’easter.
The speed limit on that section of Route 9 is 40 mph, and Metcalfe said it was just changed from 50 last month. Even that, says Metcalfe, can be too high, depending on the weather. Hogback Gift Shop has never been hit in the 11 years Metcalfe has operated it.
“The building has been bumped into and clipped a number of times over the years,” said Metcalfe. “A couple of years ago we had a car lose control and they (the driver) totaled theirs and two other cars including an employee’s car.”
Metcalfe, who also operates the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum next to the gift shop, said that a close call happened two years ago when a car parked diagonally in front of him as he walked from one building to the next. That vehicle was struck by another 15 seconds later, shielding him from being hit.
This is the gift shop’s busiest time of year, with the most business occurring on the weekend. Metcalfe said if Friday’s crash had happened during operating hours, there would certainly have been a chance someone would have been in that section of the store.