VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Video of Friday’s fiery vehicle crash into the McDonald’s on General Booth Boulevard is unforgettable. Paul Smith, owner of the Virginia Beach restaurant, said the cost of repairing the damage is also something he won’t soon forget.
A red van crashed into the restaurant’s drive-through window Friday, causing 20-foot flames. It’s believed the driver experienced a seizure, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
Crews spent much of Monday clearing debris. While the building itself is structurally sound, Smith said everything inside will have to be replaced. He’ll also have to rebuild the drive-through area.
“This is our livelihood. So, we want to get back open as soon as possible. We want to get our crews and our staff back into the restaurant as soon as possible, so that their lives can return to normal,” he said.
Fire officials said it took nearly an hour for 60 firefighters to get the massive fire under control. They said it was hard to extinguish because the van hit a natural gas meter.
“We’re just lucky that no one was killed,” Smith said. “You could easily see how, without some intervention, someone could have been killed. That’s what we’re very happy about, that they are only minor injuries.”
According to Smith, the van driver is a 69-year-old man from Cape Charles, on the Eastern Shore. That man, two McDonald’s employees and a customer at the drive-through at the time of the crash all went to the hospital. Hospital officials said three of them were treated and released Friday. As of Friday evening, the fourth was still listed in good condition. Hospital officials have not yet said if she was released.
Smith has owned the McDonald’s on General Booth Boulevard for 23 years. His family owns a total of five restaurants in Hampton Roads. He said the 50 workers from the General Booth location have been given positions at the family’s other local restaurants, until they can return to the rebuilt restaurant.
“We have an obligation to them. They help make us successful. Our obligation to them is to make sure that they are safe and secure and sound financially, so we’re going to do what we need to do,” Smith told WAVY.com
Smith said he plans to reopen in just four months.