JACKSON — A California man mistook the gas pedal for the brake in a Tesla he was renting and crashed into the J-Town Deli & Country Store just before 1 p.m. Thursday. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident but a stairway to a second-floor apartment at the property was severely damaged and needs to be replaced.
Jackson Officer Marty Bourque said, Laurence Eastman, 73, from Fullerton, Calif., the driver of the Tesla, and his wife, Feri, 71, were not injured.
“We’re chalking this us as an accident, it was in no way malicious,” Bourque said by phone.
Genn Anzaldi, owner of J-Town, said: “I felt so bad for them. They’re such nice people and were really apologetic. I bought them lunch.”
When the crash happened, she said she was in the office paying bills. "I thought, that was petty aggressive door slam. I bet someone just hit my building.”
Bourque said Eastman had gotten the Tesla, an electric rechargeable vehicle, on an online rental site where people rent out their vehicles.
“Mr. Eastman accidentally hit the wrong pedal when trying to park,” he said. “Unfortunately, the vehicle took out a stairway to an apartment.”
“Their kids and gotten them the rental as a gift in Boston,” Anzaldi said.
The impact of the collision also sent a two-by-four from the stairwell through the wall into the deli.
“No one was upstairs or hurt in the deli when the incident occurred,” Bourque said. “Apparently, there is another egress into the (second-story) unit. The stairway is closed for repair.”
“It shoved the two-by-four about a foot into the building, and it came within an inch of our refrigeration units,” said Anzaldi.
Bourque said Eastman escaped injury and damage was only minor to the vehicle, which was able to be driven from the scene.
Jackson Police Chief Chris Perley also responded to the accident.
Anzaldi said the stairway was being removed mid-afternoon. “We’re not drive-thru yet,” Anzaldi quipped, “but we’re working on it inch by inch.”
Jackson will celebrate Independence Day on Friday with fireworks at 9 p.m., and Anzaldi said J-Town will stay open until the fireworks are launched, and that her daughter, Joce, will debut her mobile J-Chillin ice cream cart, too.