UPDATE: Police say Aiken was “slurring his speech” and “shaky.” They also stated that during a search, suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were found and Aiken admitted to using methamphetamine before the crash.
SOUTH CENTRE TOWNSHIP, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s a change in dinner plans this weekend for customers of a popular Bloomsburg area restaurant. That’s because a big rig crashed into the business on Valentine’s Night.
A shocking sight as pictures show the tractor-trailer that crashed into the Italian restaurant A Taste of Italy. An impact that knocked walls down and abruptly closed the business.
“When you see this you think like ‘this can’t be possible’ and to hear this happened last night, it’s crazy,” customer Maria Lussi said.
Lussi and her boyfriend, Anthony Marturano each drove an hour to meet up and share a belated Valentine’s Day dinner Saturday night.
“We were really looking forward to it. Been looking forward to it for the past couple of weeks now,” Marturano said.
But one quick look revealed they’d have to make other plans. The couple was confused when they saw the damage so they called A Taste of Italy and when they did, they heard a voice message saying: “Hello, you’ve reached Taste of Italy. Due to emergency renovations, we will be closed for a few days.”
Less than two hours after the business closed for the night, police say 34-year-old Justin Aiken was driving a cattle truck under the influence when his rig veered off Route 11 and slammed into the restaurant. Staffers still inside were not hurt and no cattle in the truck were injured.
Jo-Anne Tockett and her husband drove by to witness the now-damaged business.
“We were here for Valentine’s Day with three other people and the place was packed,” Tocket said.
But now it leaves employees without work and customers craving a taste of Italy.
“Now we have to try because now it’s all the suspense building up of if it’s good or not, so we have to,” Marturano said.
The owner says he hopes to reopen A Taste of Italy in the next couple of days. As for the driver, he’s jailed on drug-related charges and other counts in Columbia County.