Van crashes into building in downtown GR


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Three people were hospitalized after a van careened into a building in downtown Grand Rapids Friday.

It happened just after 2 p.m. near the intersection of S. Division Avenue and Oakes Street.

The male driver and female passenger were partially ejected through the van’s windshield when it hit the building, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department. Good Samaritans rushed to help, telling the victims to hold still and calling 911.

The man and woman, along with a juvenile male who was in the van at the time of the crash, were taken to a local hospital via ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries.

“Two people in the front of the van were taken to the hospital with apparent injuries and a juvenile from the back part of the vehicle, but nothing appears to be life-threatening at this point,” GRPD Sgt. Steve LaBrecque said.

Witnesses said the van sped up before the crash.

“Witnesses indicated that the man (driver) was headed southbound on Division and for an unknown reason at this point accelerated, and then veered to the left and left the roadway, traveled over the sidewalk and hit the building,” LaBrecque said. “It would appear at this point that we’re looking at the possibility of a medical issue.”

Police do not yet know whether or not any of the people in the van were wearing their seat belts. They say they do not believe alcohol was a factor.

The building that was hit — 76 S. Division Ave. — previously housed the Tini Bikini’s Bar & Grill and was purchased by Heartside Ministry just last Tuesday.

“Eventually, we’ll move in there, but we haven’t even started planning what we’re going to do, what the campaign is going to look like,” Rev. Andy DeBraber, Heartside Ministry’s executive director, said.

In the short term, DeBraber said, the organization had contacted an insurance adjuster and will be boarding up the building’s front to secure it.

“This building was built in 1900 and it was built really solidly,” DeBraber said.

No people were struck by the van.

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