By Rick Sobey

rsobey@lowellsun.com

DRACUT -- Regulars descend upon Dracut Center Convenience every day in the hopes of getting lucky.

Owner Kamlesh Patel had a mixed bag of luck Saturday morning, as he stared at the total mess inside his convenience store. He kept shaking his head because a car smashed through the store -- taking out the register, lotto tickets, candy and more.

On the other hand, it was lucky his nephew avoided injury when the car plowed into the storefront Friday night. And fortunate that no customers were inside at the time.

"Oh man, I can't believe it," Patel, 56, said in his store.

"Nothing like this has ever happened," added the owner, who has been there since 2004. "My mind is not working right now."

Firefighters responded around 8:45 p.m. Friday after a blue Ford Taurus crashed through the store at 1388 Bridge St.

On Saturday night, closing in on 24 hours since the crash, Patel was inside the store along with several workers from DM Remodeling & Contracting LLC of Dracut. The workers were busy rebuilding the store's front counter.

As they worked, pieces of shelving, candy and other products, along with pieces of the former counter, lay in a heap at the front of the store.

As the work was being carried out, a few customers attempted to enter the store, but were informed that the store was closed.

"Closed?" a woman asked after being turned away at the entrance.


Advertisement

"What happened?"

As one of the contractors told her the story, her mouth dropped open.

Patel, who expressed concern about the loss of business, wasn't sure when he'd be able to reopen. The insurance company was expected to come on Monday.

Customers flock to his store for lotto tickets.

"I like this place a lot," said Joe Quintal, from Manchester, N.H. "They're my lucky charm.

"Hope they get back up and running soon," he added.

Dracut Center Convenience is the 16th busiest lottery sale location in the state, according to a report of fiscal 2017 sales in The Boston Globe. The store had more than $4.3 million in sales in the most recent fiscal year.

The driver was not impaired, according to Police Chief Peter Bartlett. She told police that she's not used to driving at night.

Police will issue a complaint to Lowell District Court for operating to endanger, negligent driving. The driver has not been identified.

"It was one of those weird accidents," Bartlett said. "The good thing about it is nobody was injured."

When firefighters responded, they determined that nothing was structurally wrong with the building.

"The owner is working on getting it fixed up as soon as he can," Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Mackey said.

In surveillance video from the store, the Ford Taurus is traveling down Bridge Street toward Lowell when it takes a right turn into the convenience store parking lot. The car never stops and plows into the storefront.

A video from a different angle shows the front counter getting leveled, resulting in debris all over the store.

"Oh my god," a regular patron, who declined to give her name, said as she saw the damage Saturday morning. "I just can't believe this."

Staff writer Aaron Curtis contributed to this report.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.