Located in a basin at the bottom of several hills, downtown Gig Harbor is no stranger to vehicles careening out of control, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Thankfully, no one was hurt Thursday morning when the driver of a Chevrolet pickup truck pulling a landscape trailer lost control and slammed into a building near the downtown waterfront.
The 41-year-old driver told Gig Harbor Police the brakes went out as he was driving down the steep hill that ends at Skansie Brothers Park. The incident happened just after 9 a.m. on the 3300 block of Rosedale Street.
Aware people might be walking along the water, especially with Thursday morning’s nice weather, the Gig Harbor man did what he could to stop the truck.
“The guy made a good decision. He went through somebody’s yard and then there’s a 3- or 4-foot wall that he actually went over the top of,” said Nanette Tatom, Gig Harbor Fire Department spokeswoman.
The truck crashed into the side of a law office building, coming to a stop with its engine and front tires inside. No one was in that part of the building at the time.
One of the truck’s two airbags deployed, and none of the three men inside were injured.
“We were just very fortunate that there weren’t people on that section of the sidewalk and that there was nobody in that part of the building,” Tatom said. “And that the driver made a wise choice to get it off the road quickly.”
An electrical panel was damaged and a gaping hole was left in the building, but building officials were working Thursday to repair the damage so employees could return to work after the holiday weekend, Tatom said.
In other incidents when vehicles have hurtled down Gig Harbor’s steep hills, the outcome has sometimes been deadly.
In 1989, a runaway dump truck plowed into the two-story restaurant at the bottom of the Pioneer Way hill and killed a waitress after the main floor collapsed. The 20-ton truck with bad brakes was loaded with firewood.
In 2008, a station wagon also speeding down Pioneer barrelled through the three-way stop, ran over a raised brick planting strip and crashed through the building at 3111 Harborview Drive. The driver was killed.