Local bagel shop bounces back after SUV drives through its storefront in June.
By Lynn Robbins
When Jackie Wilson unlocked the door of Bordentown Bagels on June 30 at 4:50 a.m., all was quiet and peaceful inside the shop. She could not have predicted that at about 10:10 a.m., any sense of quietude she had experienced earlier would be shattered, literally, with the sound of an SUV crashing through the store’s front window.
“That sound is something I’ll never forget,” said Wilson, a Burlington resident who has worked at the Mission Road bagel shop for 12 years. “You’d think the building was coming down.”
It happened so suddenly that Wilson heard the crash before she saw what had happened. She had been serving customers while keeping her eye on the display cases. When the sudden sound made her look up, she saw the front end of a vehicle sticking into the store, shattered glass everywhere, and a woman lying in the front of the store just past the doorway.
Later, Wilson would learn additional information. The woman driving the vehicle said that the car was in park before it unexpectedly crashed into the store. The driver and her two daughters who were in the car appeared not to be hurt.
Wilson would learn that the injured women in the doorway suffered a broken femur. According to a customer at the scene, she was brought to Helene Fuld trauma center for treatment. Four other people sustained minor injuries, were treated at a local hospital and released that day.
At press time, the police said the accident is still under investigation.
But in the seconds that followed the crash, Wilson had other priorities, taking care of the immediate needs of people inside the store. Thanks to Wilson and others, the medical emergency squad, the police and store owner Marie Duven were called. Everyone arrived within minutes.
In the short span of time before the emergency squad arrived, everyone at the scene who was not injured sprang into action. One person who had recently returned from a military tour of duty, only known as Erin, obtained medical information from the woman on the floor while giving her emotional support.
Another customer helped cradle the woman’s head to keep it still.
Another customer, John Bassett, jumped up on the cement base under the window, and with his own body weight, held the remaining window glass in place, preventing it from further shattering and flying into the store and onto the women on the floor.
Since the front door was temporarily blocked, Wilson escorted other customers out the back door, reminding them to remain calm.
When store owner arrived, she was surprised to find everyone working to assist the injured and to restore order.
“It was amazing how everyone pulled together,” Duven said.
Even those who were injured did what they could to help each other. Hamilton resident Dan Aubrey was among them. Aubrey is the arts editor at U.S. 1, a sister publication of the Bordentown Current.
“Having the air literally knocked out of me and unsure of any potential physical problems, I pulled myself away from the store door and propped myself against the bottom of the store next door,” he recounted in a Facebook post after the accident. “A woman ahead of me in the line suddenly appeared next to me with lacerations on her head and blood flowing down her face and neck. I offered her a handkerchief, and we sat stunned.
“The police and emergency squad were there in minutes and attention was paid to a woman who had been standing behind me and had been pushed by the car into the shop. That woman was taken to the trauma center at Helene Fuld Hospital.”
Aubrey said he was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, where medical personnel determined that he had no broken bones or internal bleeding.
After the injured had been cared for, Duven, her two daughters, her brother and his wife, and others began cleaning up. Under the guidance of a Board of Health official, everyone stayed to get the job done, Duven said. The major part of the cleanup was done that day.
In the four days that followed, Duven and the baker, Bill Sigasofe, prepared the shop for reopening. The building inspector came out and confirmed that there was no major structural damage to the facility. Landlord Vince Schimo hired a contractor to build a temporary wall. The mason was there the next day. Everyone worked very quickly, Duven said.
“I got about 50 phone calls and text messages from customers who asked if there was anything they could do to help,” Duven said.
Thanks to everyone’s help, the shop reopened July 5, less than one week after the crash. Shortly after opening, a customer gave them a welcome-back plant.
“I’m telling you, what an amazing town,” Duven said. “I just want to say, ‘Thank you, everyone.’”
Despite of the damaged window, the front door remained intact, Wilson said. And Wilson’s commitment to Bordentown Bagels and the town residents remains intact as well.
“I love my job,” Wilson said. “I have my responsibilities here. Marie is great. We don’t like unhappiness here. It’s like a family. We all get along.”