18-wheeler topples canopy onto car

Taco Bell wreck

The back bumper of a trapped car can be seen just peeking out from the rubble of the Arlington's Taco Bell drive-through.

A run for the border proved frightening for an Arlington Taco Bell customer and her child last Tuesday night.

At the Taco Bell at the Arlington Travel Center on U.S. 64, a falling I-beam, concrete and other debris smashed down onto a woman’s car June 3 when the driver of a tractor trailer crashed into supports for a large concrete awning above the drive-through window.

Brittney Whitten and her two-year-old son were in the drive-through at the time and neither was injured, although the child was in the backseat of her Honda Accord, next to the car’s shattered back window.

Glen Bascom Sr., who owns Arlington Travel Center and the restaurant property, is grateful the people were okay. “They were very fortunate that they didn’t get hurt, that we know of.”

Bascom said when the truck hit the building, workers inside thought it was an earthquake.

The restaurant doesn’t have room for the big rigs, and trucks are not supposed to drive around the building, although many try.

He cited shredded curbs, crushed irrigation pipes, shoved-aside landscaping rocks, muddy trenches dug into the grassy areas from stuck wheels, and other damages from drivers who don’t gauge the area’s tight space very well.

With this accident, the entire canopy was destroyed, with enough rubble to fill two large dumpsters, Bascom said. The building also has cracks but he’s had experts approve it as structurally sound to continue business until permanent repairs can be made. He’s still working with his own and the truck driver’s insurance companies to assess and determine payment for the damages.

The initial cleanup took two days, and the restaurant opened again late on June 5.

Bascom was also irked because the driver of the big rig that caused all the damage didn’t stop until about 200 feet past the wreckage. The driver, Danny Malone, was not cited for the accident.

Although Bascom once has signs up that told truckers to stay off the lot, he said he had to remove them because they didn’t meet Arlington city code.

City planner Heather Sparkes said the signs came down during a 2005-2006 time period, and the city’s signage requirements are all online for review. Requirements include placement, height of sign, visibility for drivers, and other factors.

Bascom said replacing signage had not been high on his list, but he plans to put new signage up.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to carolyn.bahm@journalinc.com.