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Brooklyn Pharmacy smashed

DRUNK DRIVER AT THE WHEEL


by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Moments after the pickup truck was pulled back out of the building by a tow truck, Brooklyn Pharmacy owner Mike Dardis stood ruefully in what used to be the front doorway.Two early morning telephone calls told Brooklyn Pharmacy owner Mike Dardis that November 14 would very much unlike any other day he’s spent there during the past 21 years.

“The first call, at 5:30 am, was from my alarm company,” Dardis told THE BEE. “A few minutes later, a 9-1-1 Dispatch operator called and said I’d really better come to the store, because a truck ran into it.”

When he arrived, Dardis was surprised and startled to see what he described as a “very large pickup truck” had driven across S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, plowed down a steel “No Parking” street sign near the curb, and smashed through his front door steel security gate. It stopped about ten feet inside his store.

“The police told me they thought the truck was going west on S.E. Kelly Street,” Dardis revealed, “And swerved across Milwaukie Avenue, before going into the store.

“But, for the life of me, I can’t imagine how it could get up such a speed, in such a short distance – maybe 40 or 50 mph? It was one of those big oversized pickup trucks. They pulled it out of here with a big tow truck.

“And, I use the word ‘was’, because the truck looked pretty much ruined – on its way to the junkyard.”

He didn’t get a look at the driver, Dardis said – who was already in an ambulance when he arrived. “The police asked the driver for his insurance, and they say it was expired.”

Due to the driver’s medical condition after his truck demolished a good section of the store’s front, he wasn’t given a Breathalyzer test on the spot. “They did say they’ll do a blood alcohol test when he gets to the hospital,” Dardis told us amidst the ruins in the front section of the only pharmacy west of 39th (Chavez) in Inner Southeast Portland.

Even though it was 90 minutes before his regular opening time, Dardis was already answering the ringing telephone back at his pharmacist’s station. “Yes, my computer is OK and it’s running. What prescription do you need filled?” he asked the caller. “I’ll have it ready for you by 11 o’clock.”

He came out front again, surveying damage so vast, it couldn’t all be captured in a single photo using a wide-angle lens.

Plate glass windows on both sides of the main front entry doors were shattered and pushed out, the doors had disintegrated – and the steel security gates lay on the ground looking like bent pipe cleaners.

“I left a message with Moe Unis of Portland Classic Piano; he owns the building,” Dardis said. “But, we need to start cleaning up the glass, both inside and outside the store.”

The force of the impact sprayed shards of glass along shelving gondolas, all the way to the rear pharmacy counter. Dardis picked up and put his original pharmacy license back where it was the previous evening; the explosive concussion of the shattering collision had shaken the building so hard it was knocked off a high shelf at the back of the store.

A feature that customers will miss when visiting the Brooklyn Pharmacy – the last independent drug store for miles around – is the remarkable display of historic pharmaceutical containers and texts.

Looking at one of the two destroyed displays, Dardis commented, “This antique display case is irreplaceable; now it’s all gone.”

He said that the four-case display was the work of curator John Kaegi, a retired pharmacist who loves preserving history and having it on display. “He asked me to take some of the unbroken bottles and put them in a box and he would get here when he could. “We will try to salvage some of the antique pharmacy display, but I don't know if we'll be able to put it back together or not.” However, a small vertical historical display case by the side door seemed relatively undamaged.

With that, Dardis went back to work, getting ready to open his business for the new day. “It’s a shame. It happened in one blinding second, and now it’s all forever changed.”

Later that day, Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson looked up the incident for us. “This was a DUII crash. I don’t have the driver’s name, since he went to the hospital, but he was cited for ‘Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant’.”

Due to the early hour, no one – other than the tipsy pickup driver – was injured in the incident, officials said.