Emergency personnel rushed to the intersection of Alabama St. and Idlewild Road Sunday morning just after 1 a.m. in response to an SUV that lost control and plowed into one of the service bay doors of Express Oil Lube.
The SUV, a GMC Envoy, was trapped under the crushed door of the western-most service bay. The driver, James Rice, Jr., known as “Baby J”, told police that he was Eastbound on Alabama St. when he looked away from the road. He stated that when he looked up again, there was a vehicle stopped at the red light in front of him. Rice says he swerved to miss the car, lost control of his GMC and drove into the building.
Responders on scene theorized that Rice had been speeding and attempted to turn South on Idlewild Road. They thought that he may have lost control due to speed and the condition of the roadway. [Idlewild Road was recently ground down to prepare it for re-paving. This process leaves the roadway very uneven and rough, sometimes making it difficult for vehicles to gain traction at high speeds. – JD]
Due to the angle at which Rice entered the building, the driver’s side of the SUV was pinned against a brick column. Rice was trapped in the vehicle and complaining of pain to his neck and back, so a firefighter climbed into the Envoy and stabilized the driver while a rescue team prepared to use hydraulic rescue cutters, or “Jaws of Life”. The Jaws were used to cut away the rear passenger door and B-column, followed by the front passenger seat and center console. Once the obstructions were removed, Rice was secured to a backboard and loaded into a waiting ambulance to be transported to BMH-GT.
During the rescue, CPD Officer John Rice noticed an unknown amount of a white powdery substance, consistent with cocaine, in the vehicle. He contacted Officer Stephen Kemp and asked for a narcotics chemical testing kit. [A member of the now dissolved CPD D.I.C.E. Team, Kemp always keeps testing kits in his car. As such, he is the go-to guy when a small amount of narcotics is found, but does not warrant calling a Metro-Narcotics agent to the scene. JD] The results of the test were not made known at the scene of the wreck.
Adding to Baby J’s future insurance woes, a 2006 Hummer was parked inside the service bay that his GMC destroyed. The cargo area of the Hummer was crushed and the oversized vehicle was pushed into the bay doors on the opposite side of the building. The impact damaged the front of the Hummer and crumpled the bay door, ripping it from its track.
The wreck is still under investigation.