PEQUOT LAKES --- It was a motor vehicle accident that could have been much worse.
But for a Pequot Lakes couple, watching a tow truck haul a Chevy pickup out the side of their nearly 2-year-old secondhand store was a heartbreaking sight Thursday night.
About 8:30 p.m. Thursday a pickup driven by a Pine River man suddenly slowed and took a sharp right turn off Highway 371 north of Pequot Lakes, then drove up an approximate 100-yard embankment through a wooded area and crashed into the middle of Castoffs Secondhand, a secondhand store owned by Dana and Kim Firkus.
Pequot Lakes Police Chief Mark Forsberg said the driver suffered a seizure while driving. His wife had been following him in another vehicle and called 911 when his truck suddenly veered off the road and struck the store. Forsberg said the wife said her husband had been released from the hospital earlier Thursday.
The Firkuses, who live next door to their business, were watching television when they heard what sounded like a bomb go off in their store, which is a metal pole building. Forsberg said when Pequot Lakes Police Officer Chad Nangel arrived at the store, the building was filled with smoke from the spinning tires. The vehicle's accelerator had remained pushed to the floor.
"This is our life," said Kim Firkus, who was visibly shaken as she watched the vehicle being pulled out of the store. "This is our living. What are we going to do? It's all we do."
The secondhand store had been a dream of the Firkuses for 15 years, they said in a Feb. 19, 2003, story in The Dispatch. Kim Firkus had quit her job as a teaching assistant at Lowell Elementary School in Brainerd to run the store.
Forsberg said the driver was treated at the scene and was able to walk away from the accident.
He said it was fortunate that the driver didn't strike another vehicle on the highway.
"He's lucky he's up and walking," said Forsberg. "It's a miracle, really."
It was unknown Thursday how much damage the accident left inside the store but there was considerable smoke damage, the Firkuses said.
"I'm just glad nobody was hurt," said Kim Firkus. "You can always rebuild a business."
Pequot Lakes Fire and Police departments, Breezy Point Police Department, Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department, the State Patrol and North Ambulance responded to the scene.
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