Blockbuster crashes

Is Houston getting worse at driving? Rash of car/building collisions raises eyebrows

Is Houston getting worse at driving? Rash of car/building collisions raises eyebrows

Aside from the parking garage and the automated car wash, buildings and vehicular traffic just don't mix. Houston's been given not one, but two fine examples, of this in the past week.

Around 6:45 Sunday evening, a BMW crashed through the front window of the River Oaks Blockbuster on West Gray — as if the floundering video rental chain didn't have enough trouble.

Although employees have been instructed not to speak about the accident, it has been confirmed that two staff members and one customer were present during the accident. No injuries were reported and the store reopened on time Monday morning at 10 a.m. — with wood boards covering the crashed-in section.

"Most of the time we see motorists hitting the gas rather than the break, or reversing by mistake," HPD spokesman John Cannon said.

 Two night before, however, saw a more dramatic event when a sporty 2000 Mazda RX-7 slammed into a northwest Houston Jack in the Box at Little York and Bingle. Store manager Raquel Moreno confirmed that no one was in the building at the time of the accident, which took place 2:20 a.m. early morning Saturday.

Employee Preston Lemelle told KHOU-TV she thought the store was closed when she arrived for work hours later.

"I came to the drive-thru and saw there was a big hole in the wall and thought, what is going on?" she said. "They were like ‘some drunk driver drove through it.’ "

The driver was quite drunk indeed, according to Houston Police Department, which arrested the man for a DWI as soon as officers arrived on the scene.

HPD spokesperson John Cannon told CultureMap that officers just happened to be nearby on routine patrol late Friday night when they saw the driver traveling southbound along Bingle in excess of 90 miles-an-hour. The sports car hopped the curb and went into oncoming traffic towards the police car before driving through a ditch and plowing into the dinning room of Jack in the Box.

While several large windows were damaged as well as a portion of the restaurant's dining room and daily operational equipment, the beloved fast food stop has been reopened.

"Bigger crashes like the one at Bingle are actually not excessively common, actually," Cannon said. "Most of the time we see motorists hitting the gas rather than the break, or reversing by mistake."

Nevertheless, the past year has seen a high number of vehicle-building collisions — a school bus crashed into a building along the Hardy toll road at Crosstimbers in December, Papa John's at Durham and 11th suffered considerable damage after a truck rammed into its front corner in June, and an SUV plowed into three southwest Houston businesses last April.

News_Blockbuster Video_River Oaks_car crash
Blockbuster suffered a broken storefront window after a BMW drove through the front of the store. Photo via KHOU.com
News_Jack in the Box_car crash
A drunk driver was arrested early Saturday morning upon slamming into a northwest Houston Jack in the Box. Photo via KHOU.com