Stolen Truck Plows Into Piston Diner; 'A Nightmare,' Says Owner
Westville Police say alcohol bottles were found inside the massive truck that plowed through the side of Piston Diner Thursday morning.
It’s not every day a front-end loader comes barreling through a restaurant, but that's exactly what Piston Diner's owner encountered at 1 a.m. Thursday at his Westville business.
With police vehicles, EMTs, fire trucks and even the American Red Cross out on the scene, co-owner Jason Kramer says there were easily 80 emergency response vehicles surrounding his diner as the massive loader sat embedded in the side of the building at Route 130 and Chestnut Street.
“It was a nightmare out here,” says Kramer, who just celebrated the diner’s grand opening in December.
With the sheer magnitude of the front-end loader, Kramer says officials struggled for most of the morning to remove the massive truck from the wreckage.
The dramatic scene of the loader halfway into the building missed one element: the suspect. Police also told NBC 10 that the front-end loader was stolen from a construction site not too far up the road, and that the truck was hot-wired. Following the crash, surveillance footage shows the suspect get out of the front-loader and jump into a silver minivan.
Westville Police Chief Fred Lederer also told NBC 10 that alcohol bottles were found inside the front-end loader and that bottles would be processed for fingerprints.
Although the building suffered a great deal of damage, Kramer says that it was fortunate the incident took place in the early morning hours when no customers or employees were inside.
In addition to structural damage to the side of the building, Kramer says the crash also took out some of the electrical wiring, leaving the entire building without power. Kramer is confident the diner will open once again, but couldn't say how long it will take to repair.
“It’s a lot different this time,” says Kramer. “It’s not just a matter of painting it.”
Only open for three months, the Piston Diner first opened its doors on Dec. 3 in the location of the former Brunic’s Diner. The opening followed Kramer and co-owner Alan Myers decision to open a year-round diner, after already having plenty of success with the Doo Wop Coffee Shop in Wildwood Crest.
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