Car slams into Proctorsville eatery: Driver injured, patrons, staff unhurt

UPDATE: Oct 27, 4 p.m. – Neal’s Restaurant and Bar has reopened.

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

At just before six, a car veered from Rt. 103 and crashed into Neal’s Restaurant in Proctorsville Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Afew minutes before 6 p.m. Thursday, a car traveling north on Route 103 in Proctorsville crashed into Neal’s Restaurant just as the dinner rush was getting under way.

At 5:50 p.m., the Proctorsville Fire Department received a tone to respond to the newly opened restaurant. On arrival, according to Deputy Fire Chief Bob Glidden Jr., they found a four door sedan partially inside the restaurant and with a single, trapped occupant.

According to Vermont State Police, Daniel K. Vieu, 39, of Ludlow veered off the road and drove his 2010 Dodge Avenger across the lawn, up and over a rock garden and into the entrance of the restaurant. Vieu sustained serious but not life threatening injuries

Servers Sarah White and Seth Rabatin were standing next to the box on the left when the car crashed into the building.

“We had to cut the center post to get him out,” said Glidden, referring to the pillar between the front and back doors that supports the roof.

Ludlow ambulance transported Vieu to Springfield Hospital and he was later transferred to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Police say Vieu was processed on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Trooper Eric Vitale Vitali told The Telegraph that a witness who called 911 to report the crash said Vieu was traveling at a reasonable speed and then just veered off the roadway.

While firefighters – including the Cavendish Fire company – mopped up a gasoline leak, they had to turn away dinner customers due to the fire hazard.

“People who wanted fried chicken were pretty disappointed,” said one firefighter.

Hillside towing removes the car.

Restaurant owner Neal Baron told The Telegraph that no one inside was injured although that was a very near miss.

Servers Sarah White and Seth Rabatin were standing near the host station when the car crashed through just a few feet away. White said her heart rate was only just beginning to slow down a little after 7 p.m.

“I think the rock garden slowed him down,” said White.

“The bar was full, people were eating dinner and more people were arriving,” said Baron. “We were fortunate.” Firefighters were told that a woman in a wheelchair had just entered the front door when the car crashed.

At about 7:30 p.m. Hillside Towing arrived and loaded the wrecked car as three firefighters swept up the absorbent pads soaked with gasoline while another stood by, fire extinguisher in hand.

Baron said he was not certain when the restaurant would reopen.

“We’ve got to get the insurance people here and then we’ll see what happens,” said Baron, who promised to reopen as soon as possible.

NOTE: Neal’s reopened on Friday, Oct 27.

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  1. Bruce Farr says:

    In one of the oddest occurrences of my life, I had just pulled into the parking lot at Neal’s and was about to get out to help my handicapped father-in-law with his wheelchair into the restaurant. Within seconds of shutting off my engine, we witnessed the vehicle above fly–literally become airborne–over the lawn, bump to the ground and plow into the front wall of Neal’s. If it had been a minute later, I would have been on that walkway, pushing my father-in-law toward the restaurant’s front door, in the path of that car. It gives one an eerie feeling, to say the least.