By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY July 13, 2001 Mondays lunch menu at the Liberty Diner featured an unexpected special, as a runaway carnival truck rolled into a car in front of the local eatery, pushing it through an exterior wall into the diners main dining room.
According to Liberty Police Officer Charles Barber, the driver of the box-type truck registered to Gilette Shows, Inc. of Jefferson parked the truck towing a carnival kiddie ride in the parking lot above the diner and went inside to get something to eat. Authorities declined to release the name of the driver, who was issued four citations.
As Anna Ehlers, 79, of Cazenovia was parking her vehicle in front of the diner, the unoccupied trucks brakes reportedly failed, and it crashed into her vehicle. The impact forced Ehlers car into the diner, scattering frightened patrons.
Ehlers and her 88-year-old passenger, Margaret Litzel of New London, CT, were transported to Community General Hospital of Sullivan County by members of the Town of Liberty Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Ehlers and Litzel were treated and released.
Elizabeth Stone, a waitress at the Liberty Diner for about four months, recalled the scary event.
The ladies and I pulled up at the same time and parked, she said. As I was putting on my apron for work, I saw the truck rolling down the parking lot toward us, but I thought somebody was in it.
Then I heard a big crash and ran over and helped them out of the car because I was afraid the windows were going to fall on them, she said. It happened so quick.
I heard an explosion and then there was a vehicle right inside the place, added her employer, Nicholas Nick Tsicalos, owner of the local landmark diner.
According to Joe Maxwell, chief of the Liberty Fire Department, about 30 volunteer firefighters responded to the bizarre motor vehicle accident.
They were real lucky, he said of the cars driver and passenger. It was lucky the windows and exterior wall didnt fall on them.
Within minutes of the accident, Sams Towing and Recovery had extracted the vehicle from the shattered wall of the diner and taken it to their garage across the street.