homepage logo

Motor vehicle accident damages local store building, merchandise

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Dec 25, 2020

Customers walk into O'Hurley's General Store on Dec. 17, the day after a car crashed into the front of the store. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shoppers wandered through O’Hurley’s General Store last Thursday afternoon, looking for Christmas gifts for their loved ones.

But, in spite of the seemingly normal activity for that time of the year, not everything was at it should be. The day before, a driver lost control of her car, and drove through one of the store’s front windows, knocking out its wood window frame, breaking five of its 30 window panes and destroying nearby portions of the surrounding wall.

According to O’Hurley’s General Store Owner Jay Hurley, the accident required extensive aid from the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department.

“The fire department was extremely helpful in dealing with this,” Hurley said. “One truck came in response to our call, and when they didn’t have the tarp they needed to cover the window space, they called a second fire truck to help. At one point, we had five or six firemen working here, removing debris and placing it in a pile to the side of the building.”

Unfortunately for the store, the window wasn’t the only thing broken by the accident. An assortment of merchandise, including china plates and tea pots, were broken by it, along with a glass display case and some display lights Hurley had handmade himself earlier this year.

O'Hurley's General Store Owner Jay Hurley looks through the merchandise that was broken by the motor vehicle collision into the front of his store, the day after the collision, on Dec. 17. Tabitha Johnston

“It happens about once every 10 years. Being on the curve of a major street like this, it’s a risk I’m taking,” Hurley said, mentioning he remembers similar accidents taking place as a boy, when his father owned the business. “This will be the third time I’ve had to replace this window. The other window has had to be replaced twice, and our front door area has had to be replaced once, due to car accidents.”

Because of the high number of accidents that take place at the front of his store, Hurley said he has added safety precautions to his business practices. In preparation for last Wednesday’s snowstorm, he had placed a bright blue, blinking light in the now-broken window, to alert drivers of the store’s location. But some time later that morning, Hurley said he was working near the window, when the car suddenly burst through it, scattering debris everywhere.

After calling 911 and dealing with the major cleanup from the collision, Hurley said he got to work boxing up the merchandise from near the window. All of those boxes were then carried into the store’s great hall, where they will be sorted through at a later date.

Last Thursday, the day after the motor vehicle accident took place, Hurley could be seen bent over the empty window space with his friend and Shepherdstown resident Kevin Saylor, as the two worked to fill cement blocks and place them at the base of the window frame area.

“I’ve replaced this window in a week before, but this time I think it will take me until New Year’s,” Hurley said, mentioning since the building is historic, he does most of the replacement work himself. The window sill, which was cracked in half by the accident, is over 100 years old, and will have to be repaired to match the sill of the opposing window.

Kevin Saylor, of Shepherdstown, repairs the front wall of O'Hurley's General Store on Dec. 17. Tabitha Johnston