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Bank becomes a drive-through

Local resident's car crashes into new US bank location
by: VERN UYETAKE, US Bank employee Christene Mortenson looks over the spot where her desk used to be after a car slammed into the US Bank at 333 South State Street on Monday.

The US Bank at 333 S. State St. reopened Tuesday, a day after a Lake Oswego man drove his Nissan Altima through the front of the bank.

Patty Zimmerman, bank manager, said 'it was a little surreal' watching Vincent Lowenberg, 81, drive his white sedan through the window of the bank Monday afternoon.

'I saw him before he came through,' Zimmerman said, referring to Lowenberg as he veered his car over a sidewalk and into the bank. 'I remember seeing glass shatter as the sun was shining.'

No one was hurt in the bizarre accident, though Zimmerman and other bankers came within inches of being hit by the car as their desks were crushed or split in half.

US Bank employee Courtney Larson wasn't facing the car when it rushed by her, splitting her desk in half.

'Everyone got up and was screaming,' Larson said.

She estimated that Lowenberg was going about 15 mph.

Lowenberg, in an interview with the Lake Oswego Review, said his foot was caught between the accelerator and brake in his Nissan.

'My foot got stuck and it wouldn't come off,' he said.

Lowenberg said he was pulling out of the shopping center when he had to swerve to miss another car. Once he began veering right, he saw people in a parked car and turned sharply into the bank to avoid those people.

Zimmerman said a desk collapsed on one employee, causing a minor injury.

She said Lowenberg seemed to accelerate, just inches from her desk. The car came to rest at the bank of the bank.

'I heard a loud noise,' she said. 'He just kept accelerating.'

US Bank had just moved into the new space in December. The bank will go forward with an earlier planned open house at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday.

Lowenberg said he was grateful no one was injured.

'I passed them all,' he said, referring to when he crashed through the bank. 'It was an absolute miracle. God had to be involved in this.'

Zimmerman declined to comment on reports that Lowenberg had been barred from visiting the bank.

Lake Oswego Police Capt. Don Forman said Lowenberg was not welcomed at the bank because of previous problems.

'This is a communication-based prohibition on his being welcomed at that location,' Forman said. 'There is nothing to indicate that this was a malicious incident or intentional at all.'

Lowenberg wasn't cited following the incident but Forman indicated he would be re-tested for his driver's license by the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles.

In August, a car driven by an LOPD officer slammed into the front window of Framed by Design, just a few doors down from US Bank.

Despite the accident, Zimmerman said she and the other bank employees are enjoying their new digs.

Their former building at 120 N. State St. is due to be torn down to make way for a city park.

'We love the other businesses up here,' she said. 'We love the parking. A lot of customers say they have a place to park now.'