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90-year-old mechanic shop forced to close after “inattentive” truck driver plows through it


90-year-old mechanic shop forced to close after a semi truck plowed through the building, knocking over walls and damaging vehicles. 

On January 10th, Richard Binder was working at Cal & Gus Motors in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, just as he has been doing since 1970, when he heard a sound “like a plow dropped.”

“And all of a sudden, the truck just started to come right through the doors,” Binder said to Sheboygan Press. “We kind of just ran to the back corner of the building and the truck stopped… The nose was in the third stall — it knocked the wall down on the tractor [we were working on].”

The semi truck had been traveling south when it failed to stop at a stop sign intersection at North Lincoln Street and East Rhine Street. The truck crashed into a vehicle in the intersection before skidding through the shop’s parking lot, hitting another car, and plowing through the building at an angle. The impact destroyed the doors to the first and second work stalls and took out a wall along a walkway to the next two work stalls. 

Binder says the crash was “pretty unbelievable,” and that the truck stopped a mere 15 feet from him. Thankfully, no one inside of the shop was hurt. The truck driver was not hurt in the incident, but two children and a mother inside of the car struck in the intersection were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, reported ABC 2. The truck driver was cited for running a stop sign. Police who responded to the incident described the situation as “inattentive driving.”

Extra support beams were installed before the removal of the crashed truck to prevent further collapse of the building, but Brian Hammann, one of the owners, says that they will have no choice but to close for the foreseeable future. 

“We don’t have air to the hoists,” Binder said. “We had to turn some water off. We don’t have water over in the other side. We don’t have electricity in half the shop. We’ve got heat, so that’s a good thing. We can be here and at least try to get some work done.”

2024 will mark 90 years of operation for Cal & Gus Motors, which opened in 1934 as a gas station before converting to a mechanic shop. The business is family owned except for Binder, a business partner who might as well be family. Binder has been working at the shop since 1970 when he was only 15 years old. 

“I don’t know how many people ask if I’m ready to retire,” Binder said. “Because I am old enough. I’m more than old enough to retire. But I said, I just, I don’t want to go out this way. So, I’m hoping the engineer will say that we can fix this and get going again.”


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