BANGOR, Maine — A local woman apparently trying to parallel park in front of the Top Shelf Coins & Comics shop Thursday morning ended up parking her car in the shop’s front foyer — destroying the display window and front entrance.
Comic books and graphic novels could be seen strewn all the way to the back of the store, and splintered wood and shattered glass was left all over the front of the shop after the Toyota Camry was removed just after 9 a.m.
“She was parallel parking down in front of that store, and she claims she may have accidentally hit the gas and put it up over the curb and hit the store,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said.
Laura Santilli, 47, of Bangor was attempting to park on Central Street around 8:25 a.m. when the mishap occurred, Edwards said. She also hit and destroyed an antique-style light pole that was located in front of the store and will cost around $3,000 to replace, Edwards said.
“It appears to be operator error,” the sergeant said. “No one was hurt” and no tickets were issued.
Top Shelf owners Jeff and Ellie Mae Robinson, who moved their business downtown a decade ago, arrived at the store, which was not yet open, shortly after the accident occurred.
“It’s crazy,” Ellie Mae Robinson said while standing on the sidewalk in front of the comic book store. “I almost cried.”
Brother Don of Friars’ Bakehouse next door heard the sound of the crash and initially thought there had been a multiple-car accident.
“We heard this horrific noise” and ran outside to see Santilli getting out of her car, he said. “I don’t understand how the pole didn’t slow her down.”
Ellie Mae Robinson pointed to where the pole stood and said, “She hit the pole — and you still can see the tire tracks — and didn’t stop.”
The front half of Santilli’s car was on the sidewalk and the rear end was inside the comic book store when the vehicle finally came to rest.
No one was on the sidewalk or inside the store, which opens at 10 a.m. daily, both Brother Don and Ellie Mae Robinson said.
“If this had happened at noontime, this sidewalk is full, and people would have been hurt,” he said.
After the car was removed and police left the scene, Jeff Robinson stepped through the mess, breaking glass as he went, to begin the cleanup. Employee Chris Mills, who was scheduled to work at 9:30 a.m., arrived for work on time.
“I heard,” he said as he approached Ellie Mae Robinson on the sidewalk. “Somebody sent me a picture [text] this morning.”
The comic book store has three part-time employees and is run by Jeff Robinson. The Robinsons lease the space and the landlord “is sending his workers right over,” Ellie Mae Robinson said.
Giacomo’s coffee shop, which is located nearby on the corner of Central and Hammond streets, has a four-step, how-to-parallel-park painting on one of its windows.
“We actually sit here all day watching people trying to parallel park,” said owner Brett Settle.
The idea for the window painting arose last winter when people inside Giacomo’s saw someone outside having a hard time parallel parking, he said.
“It was only going to stay up for a week, but it’s been up for about six months now,” Settle said. “It’s a simple four-step thing.”
Parking is allowed on both sides of Central Street, which is one-way, and Settle acknowledged that for many drivers “it is harder to park on the left-hand side than the right.”
In fact, when the owners of the comic book store heard that someone had driven through the front window, it was hard to picture, Ellie Mae Robinson said.
Most of the damage to the building seems cosmetic and can be repaired, Ellie Mae Robinson said, adding that she hopes some of the comics and graphic novels also can be salvaged.
“The main thing is nobody got hurt,” she said.