[Additional reporting by Drew Penner. — Editor]
Chantal Vaughan was at work as a manager at Felton Feed & Pet Supply on May 23 when her world was shaken—figuratively and literally—by a driver who lost control of his car and careened into the front of her store, leaving shattered glass and shaken staff in his wake.
“I’m a California girl,” said Vaughan, whose first impulse upon hearing the impact to her store was, “Earthquake!”
She added: “We had a shelving unit up front that housed jars of honey and ceramic bowls, and when I heard all the sounds of breaking glass, I thought the fixture had fallen over from the quake.”
She came to find out, the mess was a little less Mother Nature and a little more man-made.
It’s a tricky situation for the business, because Vaughan’s sister Myshka owns the company, but not the building. The building is owned by a couple from Sacramento, with a property management company overseeing the location.
“Right now, we have no control of the situation,” she said. “It’s pretty frustrating.”
The 30-year-old Ben Lomond man who drove his 2000 BMW sedan into the business has not reached out to the store since the crash, Vaughan said.
“I get the distinct feeling he’s looking out for himself and not others,” Vaughan said.
CHP officer Sam Courtney, with its Santa Cruz office, said in the days after the crash that the man was driving along State Route 9 near Kirby Street when the vehicle careened into the storefront, injuring two people.
The driver was uninjured, and the CHP determined that drugs and/or alcohol were not a factor in the crash, Courtney said.
Vaughan said they have yet to receive any other news about the incident. The driver was not arrested following the crash, and the CHP has not released any further details about the incident since.
“[The driver] wasn’t ever breathalyzed or taken in for urinalysis, so there’s no way to know what really happened,” Vaughan said.
The Press Banner reached out to the man Vaughan identified as the driver for an interview, but he didn’t respond.
CHP Officer Israel Murillo said when he arrived on the scene to investigate the crash he found the driver’s story credible enough to mention how he said he lost consciousness in his report. However, he stressed he’s bound by medical privacy laws as far as details he may have gathered about the driver’s health condition.
“I did a field sobriety test,” Murillo said. “I did not observe any objective signs of impairment.”
Asked if it’s safe for people to enter the store, Vaughan says the front of the building has been red-tagged, but the interior is fine for customers to wander within.
While Vaughan says the staff is trying to operate “business as usual,” she admits it’s been tough, and she’s looking forward to putting the mess behind her. A contractor’s bid has been accepted for work, and an insurance assessor told Vaughan to expect at least six months before things get back to normal.
“Felton Feed has been part of this community for 25 years, and this coming August will mark our five-year anniversary,” she said. “We’re excited to potentially have a grand reopening when the work is done. It will take a lot more than this to shake us up.”
As Vaughan is talking, a long-time customer overhears her comments, and pipes up: “I admire your spirit.”
“The community has been lovely and wonderful,” Vaughan grins. “They’re the reason we’re here, and the reason we continue to stay. Everyone has been so supportive, and some have offered to host fundraising efforts on our behalf. For right now, we’re sitting tight and letting the three insurance companies duke it out. But trust me, we’re not going anywhere.”
Felton Feed & Pet Supply is located at 6221 Highway 9 in Felton. Look for the smashed in front of the building decorated with yellow caution tape, and then drive around back for parking and access to the store.