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Chatham Teen Drives Through Store Window

16-year-old with a learner's permit, took car while parents were away and crashed into New Providence clothing store, police said.

Pieces of shattered glass still sprinkled the storefront of Adam’s Fine Clothing For Men in New Providence on Monday afternoon, one day after a 16-year-old Chatham resident with a learner’s permit drove through one of the store’s large, double-paned glass windows

The driver, a Chatham teen whose name was not released, caused more than $5,000 worth of damage to the storefront and merchandise, the store's owner said.

New Providence Deputy Police Chief Scott Torre said the 16-year-old took his parents’ car while they were out of town. When he went to park the vehicle in front of Adam’s Fine Clothing For Men at 1275 Springfield Ave., apparently to get pizza at Bellariva Trattoria next door, the driver ended up hitting the accelerator instead of the brake, driving through one of the store’s front windows.

“He then backed up and struck a brick support column in front of Adam’s,” Torre said in an email.

The teen was charged with taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, being an unlicensed driver, careless driving and a violation of learner’s permit. He is scheduled to appear in New Providence Municipal Court appearance on Oct. 31 at 3 p.m.

Joe Savino, owner of Adam’s Fine Clothing For Men, said his store had been open about an hour when he started decorating that particular window with new fall merchandise. He had finished decorating just minutes before the accident occurred.

“I had heard him pop over the curb, looked up and the front of the car came through the window. That wasn’t the end of it,” Savino said.

“He panics, puts the car in reverse and as he’s backing away, he ends up slamming into one of the columns. Then he panics and puts the car back into drive and comes further through the window the second time. The second time, he not only came through the window, but popped up into the store a little bit. He cracked the brick façade underneath it. At that point, I ran out. He was just scared out of his mind and didn’t want to get out of the car.”

The accident did not cause any structural damage to the building, Savino said, nor did it cause much damage to the Buick SUV the 16-year-old was driving.

The passenger in the car was also a teenager from Chatham, he said. Since the driver’s parents were away on vacation, Savino said the passenger’s father came to the scene when New Providence Police officers were arriving.

“The passenger’s father came down rather quickly. [He] was very, very nice. He offered me all of the information I needed, gave me all the assurances that they would do the right thing,” Savino explained. “The driver’s father came home last night from vacation. The first thing the father did was he walked his son down to the store and made him apologize, and he assured me that they are going to do the right thing, which is very reassuring.”

The store was closed on Sunday following the accident and it did affect his business, Savino said. However, the store will now be open at regularly scheduled hours.

New Providence Police were at the scene for about two hours, he said, and then a restoration company came in to clean up the damages.

Savino and the driver’s father submitted claims to their respective insurance companies. Savino estimated the total cost of the damages is more than $5,000 and repairs will likely not begin for several weeks.

“The window itself, the glass, was more than $1,000. I don’t know what the [cost of the] restoration was [on Sunday],” Savino said. “I had more than $2,000 worth of merchandise in the window that was damaged. One of the items was a $1,400 suit; another one was a $900 sports coat. Just brand new merchandise, I just put it in the window and it’s just shrouded in glass.”

Savino said he is not pressing any charges and he does not plan on appearing at the Oct. 31 court date unless he is asked to attend.

“I’m just very impressed and very relieved that the parents acknowledged everything and assured me that they would work with me,” Savino said.

Ellen October 10, 2012 at 01:55 AM
I believe the driver mistook the gas for the brake, not the break.
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