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CTY packoscrash01p Toledo police examine a tractor-trailer rig after it crashed into Tony Packo's restaurant on Front Street in East Toledo.
Toledo police examine a tractor-trailer rig after it crashed into Tony Packo's restaurant on Front Street in East Toledo.
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Published: Friday, 8/1/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Truck that crashed into East Toledo Tony Packo's removed after 8 hours, driver dead

East Toledo restaurant to reopen Saturday

BY BRIAN BUCKEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Crews removed a tractor-trailer cab from inside Tony Packo‘‍s this afternoon, nearly eight hours after its driver died when he smashed into the East Toledo landmark building.

The restaurant, at Consaul and Front streets, was tentatively expected to reopen on Saturday.

“We want to express our condolences to the family of the truck driver, and we are grateful that no one else was injured,” said Scott Radel, vice president for operations and human resources at Bennett Management Corp., which owns Tony Packo’‍s.

In a statement, Mr. Radel said most of the damage was contained to the bar area.

Tony Packo, Jr., who was at the scene today, said they were waiting for a building inspector to declare the restaurant safe before they can open to the public.

Workers remove a window from Tony Packo's Cafe on Front Street in East Toledo, Friday, August 1, 2014, before removing the tractor of a semi truck that crashed into it earlier in the day. The trailer had already been removed. Workers remove a window from Tony Packo's Cafe on Front Street in East Toledo, Friday, August 1, 2014, before removing the tractor of a semi truck that crashed into it earlier in the day. The trailer had already been removed.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Jim Schlievert, an accident reconstructionist with the Toledo Police Department, said the motorist died at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where he was transported after the 7:15 a.m. crash. His name has not been released.

The driver was heading eastbound on Front Street when witnesses said he went through a green light and collided with the building. There were no signs of the driver applying the brakes before the collision. The semi went through the front and into the bar area of the restaurant.

"I was almost to the light right there, it was a green light, and I saw him coming across and he didn't even stop, he just hit the building," said Rodney Swartz, who witnessed the crash. "I parked my motorcycle in the middle of the road there and we ran up to try to get him out of the truck. He was already non-coherent and everything. We tried to open the door and couldn't get the door open."

"It looks like it was medically related," Officer Schlievert said about the cause of the crash. "But we still need to confirm that with the coroner."

PHOTO GALLERY: More photos from the crash scene

Toledo police Sgt. Kevin Braun said officials believe he may have suffered a heart attack.

No one was inside the building at the time of the crash.

Spectators watch as crews work to remove a tractor-trailer rig that crashed into Tony Packo's Cafe. Spectators watch as crews work to remove a tractor-trailer rig that crashed into Tony Packo's Cafe.
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

"Our crews reported on scene and immediately took control of the scene," Toledo Fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld said. "They did have to extracate the individual in the truck. It took about 20 minutes to be able to do that."

Lieutenant Hertzfeld said there was significant structural damage to the front of the building.

“There‘‍s no gas leak, we still have power, everything like that, it’‍s just cleaning it up and getting it together,” said Packo‘‍s employee Daneille Hartford.

Jason Kendall, who lives on nearby Fremont Street, said he was out on his bike when he saw a group of police cars by the restaurant. "I just thought that the semi truck had been pulled over when I first saw it," he said.

Krista Sweeney, a Packo's employee, said she received numerous calls this morning about the accident. Ms. Sweeney is scheduled to work this evening, but was unsure if she would be able to report for her shift.

The building has been the home of Packo‘‍s for more than 80 years. Tony Packo opened a sandwich and ice cream shop at Consaul and Genesee streets in the early 1930s, but soon after created a sausage-on-a-roll sandwich with a secret meat sauce in the early 1930 - the birth of the company's famous Hungarian hot dog.

He moved the business into the Birmingham site at Consaul and Front streets in 1936.

"It's special to our neighborhood," Mr. Kendall said of the iconic restaurant. "It's the one and only, the original thing."

Packo's employees were handing out sheets this afternoon directing customers to their downtown location, Packo's at the Park, for lunch.

Linda and Jeff Hillman, of Boston, came to Toledo a few days ago and were headed to the Front Street Packo's location for lunch.

Mr. Hillman grew up in Toledo and last ate at the original Packo's in 1985. Mrs. Hillman has never eaten at Tony Packo's and said she was looking forward to seeing the signed hot dog buns on the wall. After learning of the accident, they decided to move on to Packo's at the Park.

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6082.



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