OLIVETTE, Mo. – The scene of Saturday’s crash is not where you would expect a car to crash through a building.
The strip mall in Olivette is not right off the road and, once you’re in the parking lot, you won’t find a lot of space to get any real speed in front of the stores.
Saturday morning, Glenda and Joseph Simmons arrived for a coffee at Starbucks. Joseph sat in his car and watched a driver in his 70s slam into the store while his wife was inside.
“Don’t take time for granted or relationships. They started out a beautiful Saturday, went to breakfast, Glenda wanted a latte and then, in an instant, she’s gone,” said attorney Richard Zalasky of the Brown and Crouppen Law Firm.
“Everybody can agree that it’s not supposed to happen. Does it have to do with the vehicle? Does it have to do with the driver? Was there some medical emergency?”
Zalasky said he’s already requested preservation of the driver’s cellphone and vehicle data from the morning of the crash. He’ll also look into whether the strip mall design played a part.
“There have been a number of crashes of this nature throughout the country,” he said.
Olivette’s city manager said city code does not require bollards like you see in front of some stores, like a nearby Quick Trip. Instead, you’ll find 6 to 8-inch straight curbs. The city manager said she knows of no other incident like this here in the seven years she’s been with Olivette.
Prior examples will be one of the things Zalasky will consider before deciding if safety design is to blame.
“It’s too early for me to say that. I’m certainly looking at it,” he said.
The City of Olivette also issued a news release Tuesday updating its investigation saying Starbucks indoor surveillance footage is under review and a warrant was obtained for the vehicle involved, which could find mechanical information similar to what you would find in an aircraft’s black box.
The police department added that it will not be releasing the name of the 78-year-old driver involved until it completes its investigation.
A memorial of flowers now lines the front of Starbucks in memory of 73-year-old Glenda Simmons who was University City teacher of the year in 2005 and 2006 when she when her last name was Young. After her then-husband died, she became re-acquainted with Joseph Simmons, with whom she attended high school in the 1960s. They married three years ago.