UPDATE: Trolley driver “didn’t see” light pole

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Multiple people were taken to the hospital after a trolley hit a pole early Sunday morning, police said.

One of the men on a the trolley told NewsChannel 15 that a group of people rented the trolley for a graduation party for an Ivy Tech graduate. They arrived at the Belvedere Lounge on West Jefferson Blvd when the driver of the trolley hit a pole in the parking lot.

Trolley hits pole

Duane Woods said everyone was caught off guard.

“Boom! It was just like you hit something and it’s a domino effect. I mean we didn’t know what happened. We just thought were gonna have a good time,” Woods said.

Woods said he had minor neck pain but wasn’t badly hurt.

Trolley Crash

Police said about 40 people were on the trolley when the crash happened. More than five ambulances were on scene to take some people to area hospitals for mostly neck and back injuries. Some riders refused treatment. Other people said their knees and legs hurt from hitting the seats during the crash.

Another trolley was brought over and about half a dozen people left the scene on it.

The driver of the trolley passed a breathalyzer test with a zero reading at the scene, according to police. He declined to comment on the crash.

Club Car Limousine & Trolley owns the trolley involved in the crash. On Sunday afternoon, owner Phillip Coomer told NewsChannel 15 that the driver told him he didn’t see the light pole and that he didn’t think it was lit up.

“He’s a nice and gentle individual. We’ve never had problems with him before. He’s upset that this happened,” Coomer said.

The driver’s worked for Coomer for several years. Coomer said his company hasn’t had any at-fault accidents before this in its 13-year history. Coomer said the driver was going at “parking lot speed,” which he said is about ten miles per hour. The impact did cause the concrete base of the light pole to tip over. Coomer said the bumper “did its job” and took almost all of the hit. The bumper will have to be replaced and there’s a little damage to some wood trim, Coomer said. The glass in the back of the trolley was also cracked.

Several people who were riding on the trolley told NewsChannel 15 at the scene that they had been telling the driver to slow down all night. Coomer said he’s skeptical of that.

“The driver doesn’t have a habit of speeding. Drivers are not allowed to speed. If anyone had said anything about his driving, he would have listened,” Coomer said.

While the driver did pass an alcohol test at the scene, Coomer said his company also had him take a drug test.

“We have no reason to believe he was on drugs or alcohol, but we are taking this investigation seriously,” he said.

The limo company has monthly safety meetings already, but Coomer said another one was scheduled for later this week to go over this crash and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

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