WATERVILLE — A Sidney woman was allegedly intoxicated Thursday morning when she twice crashed her minivan into a downtown restaurant and hit a parked car, causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to the eatery and frightening pedestrians on Main Street, police said.

Elaine Jacques, 60, was charged with operating under the influence after crashing her gray Dodge Caravan into the Jewel of India restaurant around 11:30 a.m., said Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey, of the Waterville Police Department. No injuries were reported, but the crash did present a dangerous situation, Rumsey said.

“Downtown is a busy area, and there are many pedestrians in the area,” Rumsey said. “The restaurant was either open or had employees inside, so there was a good chance that someone could have been injured or struck by that vehicle.”

Witnesses said they saw Jacques’ van hit a parked car outside the restaurant, then she put the van into reverse and drove over the sidewalk, crashing into the front of the restaurant twice.

The parked car belonged to Howard McGreenah, 67, who was sitting across the street at Jorgensen’s Cafe, drinking coffee. He was able to stop Jacques by getting into her van, putting the vehicle in park and taking the keys out.

“I heard a crash and looked across the street,” said McGreenah, of Oakland. “I was trying to figure out what to do and whether I should go over there when she put it in reverse and slammed into the restaurant.”

McGreenah and others who witnessed the crash said they also saw the woman slam the van into the restaurant a second time, shattering a glass window. “I said, ‘She can’t keep crashing.’ I figured she was going slow enough that I might be able to talk to her, though,” McGreenah said.

He said he walked over to the van, opened the passenger side door and said, “What are you doing?” McGreenah said he then reached across the passenger side, put the van in park and pulled the key out.

“I was just thinking, ‘Can I get in the car safely?’ That’s what I was trying to figure out,” he said.

Retired firefighter Bob Shay and his wife, Cathy, also witnessed the crash from their parked car on Main Street. “We heard a bang and heard people screaming for her to stop,” Bob Shay said. Shay said it was hard to tell what was going on, but he didn’t think the crash looked intentional.

After McGreenah stopped the van, Shay said he also went over to the woman to make sure she was OK before first responders arrived.

When officers arrived at the scene, they also checked to make sure Jacques was not having a medical emergency, Rumsey said. She was tested for operating under the influence of alcohol and placed under arrest. Dozens of pedestrians watched as the van was towed away from the one-way street.

“We were very scared,” said Prem Sharma, owner of the Jewel of India. “It was like a big crash outside.”

Sharma said he was sitting in the restaurant when he saw the van crash into a pole outside the door, back up and crash into the glass window near the door. Afterward, the splintered pole lay in pieces and the glass was shattered across the sidewalk.

The restaurant generated excitement last November when it opened as the city’s only Indian restaurant in the former Bank of Maine space. It also has a second entrance off The Concourse and remained open for business on Thursday after the accident.

Sharma said he was not sure how much the repairs to the building would cost.

McGreenah said the damage to his car was minimal.

“The problem is she would have kept doing it,” he said. “I was worried she wasn’t going to stop. She would have done a lot more damage to other cars or store fronts or killed someone.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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