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Posted on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Car crashes into Panera restaurant in Ann Arbor; couple grateful they weren't sitting in their regular booth

By Cindy Heflin


Photo courtesy of Beth Wallace

A police officer talks with a witness after a car crashed into the Panera Bread restaurant at 1773 Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor Sunday.

Corey and Beth Wallace got to the Panera Bread restaurant on Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor a bit later than usual Sunday morning. Had they not, they might have been sitting right at the spot where a car crashed through the wall a few minutes later.

As it was, they were standing in a line at the cashier station when they heard what sounded like an explosion, Beth Wallace said. Then she noticed smoke coming in the building and smoke outside. Soon it was obvious what had caused the racket. The front section of a white car was protruding through a wall at the front of the restaurant, Corey Wallace said.


A view of the damage to the Panera restaurant after a car hit it Sunday morning.

Photo courtesy of Beth Wallace

The restaurant was eerily quiet, Beth Wallace said. “I think everyone was just in shock,” she said.

The Wallaces typically go to the Panera at 1773 Plymouth Road every weekend, and they normally sit in the area the car hit. Sunday, they were hoping their infant son would fall asleep before they got there, so they took an extra turn around the block before going in. Also, there was a line at the cashier that further delayed them. They feel fortunate because the car crashed into the spot where they normally sit.

“I’m still freaked out about it. It kind of makes you think about fate and why we weren’t sitting there,” Corey Wallace said. Wallace had even suggested to his wife that she go sit with the baby and wait for him to bring the food, but she decided not to.

“It’s weird how fate works sometimes,” he said. ‘Our 5-month-old would have been in his car seat against the wall. There’s a good chance he might have been hurt.”

Wallace said the accident happened about 9:30 or 10 a.m. Sunday. The car’s bumper and headlights were visible inside the restaurant, he said. The booth they normally sit at seemed to have been moved a bit from the impact, but fortunately no one appeared to be injured. The driver was sitting in a chair and talking on a phone after the crash, he said.

Ann Arbor police were unavailable Monday to provide information about the accident and what caused it.

The restaurant was closed for the rest of the day but reopened Monday morning, an employee who answered the phone said.

Despite the unsettling nature of the accident, Corey Wallace said he and his wife would probably go back to the restaurant. “We just won’t be sitting by the window,” he said.

Contact Cindy Heflin at 734-623-2572 or email her at or follow her on Twitter.


say it plain

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

I like the last line perhaps most of all... like, the 'reporter' asked if they will still be patrons of the restaurant lol. But only the police can offer further details though. belly laughs indeed...


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 3 p.m.

agree that this is shoddy reporting -- if the police aren't available, ask some witnesses - that's the standard thing to do isn't it? - a reporter with any curiosity at all (a requirement I thought) would have asked Mr. Wallace about what he saw regarding the accident in the first place. you all are acting like if police are not available for comment we have no business knowing anything...


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

I was just driving along minding my own business, when, all of a sudden, this huge Panera store jumped right in front of me! I had no time to react, just hoped my car insurance doesn't go up...... Oh, yeah, and that no one was hurt........


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

I saw the picture and said, "how is that possibile!". And then I saw where it happened and knew instantly how it happened. I won't go into details for fear of being deleted.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Unberieveable some of the stuff that passes for driving over there.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

We all know what you're getting at and it's true LOL!


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

LOL @ the northside!

Cindy Heflin

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

Thanks to all for reading and commenting. We are asking questions of the police about how the accident occurred and what caused it. As the article states, police were not available Monday to answer these kinds of questions.

Ann English

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

I guess big department stores have much thicker walls than restaurants do; I've never forgotten how a woman pregnant with a girl she didn't want deliberately drove her car fast into the wall of a large department store, and died from the act. Her baby didn't survive either. I think this took place in a state south of Michigan. I recall that it looked like she got the idea from someone else, possibly Dale Earnhardt Sr., but of course he wasn't trying to die doing what he loved best. I should get the idea of motorists being crushed by collapsing walls they've driven into out of my head, with all these smaller vehicles going right through walls and their drivers not very much hurt at all. Someone said it looks like the car in this story is a Chevrolet. Perhaps all Chevrolet models are solidly built, not just Cavaliers and Malibus.

Cindy Heflin

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

ConcernedCitizen: Here is the link to the article posted today:


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

What happened to the article released at about noon today indicating that the driver intended to brake when she accelerated? Was that info determined as premature?


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:39 a.m.

So, where's the beef? This story has the nothing in common with the headlines. I do wonder how one is hired to work for, and bewildered by the "fill in the blank" news posts.

say it plain

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

They like volunteers most of all ;-)


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:28 a.m.

Geez, this is a one time event, and needs to be considered as such. The possibility is of that one may be hit by lightning twice.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

Lesson learned, ask for the booth in the back.

Attempted Voice of Reason

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

I just did a quick google search to see if one of the Detroit papers covered the story and had some information, but no such luck. What was really interesting though: When I broadened the search to be simply "car crashes into restaurant", I got a flurry of hits - it seems this happens somewhere in the country every few days. When looking at the complete reports written from the full-time reporters on the other newspapers, I saw four typical trends: 1) Alcohol 2) Rage 3) Age 4) Bad weather. Judging from the picture we can rule out the bad weather. Surprisingly "distraction" didn't turn up very frequently--I guess because jumping a curb generally causes a distracted driver to pay attention again. I'm very curious to see what happened here--hopefully we can get some reporters from some news agency somewhere to look at this flurry of crashes. It's kind of odd to be concentrated in one area.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.

Headline should read: Couple thankful that fate worked in their favor. The article is nothing about the accident and ALL about the couple. I thought I was reading an article about a terrible accident that happened at Panera. Guess I was mistaken.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

"Ann Arbor police were unavailable Monday to provide information about the accident and what caused it." From the article


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

No offense to Corey- however, when ever does a car crash into a building have the complete story and focus on a couple in line and no mere mention of the driver and passengers in the car? You would think somehow the story would be a little bit skewed towards the incident itself than about Corey.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

Why no offense? This is a joke of an excuse for journalism, and deserves heaps of scorn and derision.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

"Ann Arbor police were unavailable Monday to provide information about the accident and what caused it." From the article.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 8:35 a.m.

I agree, and it really odd he did that. I am still trying to figure out what it takes to be a columnist for this site. I do get lots of good belly laughs from them though. Who can one just focus on some people who were in line anyway. This is weird but in my line of work, I do get some one sided stories. Stay tuned for the welfare of the people who were actually involved, new at eleven.

John Roos

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Let's ask ourselves... What is a good driver?

Dog Guy

Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

A good driver is constantly aware that he is a sloppy and dangerous driver and constantly strives to amend.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

Me. I am a good driver. Everyone else fails.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

This article is the most fascinating for what it doesn't say....who was the driver? How did this happen? How old was she? Was it mechanical failure or people failure?...How does a lightweight car go through a cement wall? What speed was it going? How did it go SO far across the lot to hit that side of the building to begin with. I find this type of thing a) fascinating and b) deplorable news reporting -- seriously, people care about the people inside who weren't anywhere near it, vs the CAUSE of the accident?????


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

"Ann Arbor police were unavailable Monday to provide information about the accident and what caused it." From the article.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

North Campus drivers are the worst.

Heidi Koester

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

I agree with Corey: it's hard to imagine how a car could end up in that position accidentally. Even if she had to swerve to avoid something, and ended up going over the curb, she still wouldn't end up perpendicular to the building. I'm curious what the explanation is. Very grateful that no one was seriously injured.

Dog Guy

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

The Wallaces should tip their guardian angels for great service.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Yeah, it was angels.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

Looks like they need a drive thru.................


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

I cant believe I read that entire thing to only see "Ann Arbor police were unavailable for comment Monday about the accident and what caused it." if you don't have all the info, dont publish the article.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9 p.m.

That is 1000 percent wrong, jgold47. Articles are written all the time that lack complete details. is obligated as a news agency to publish something about such an event even if they don't have access to all available information just yet.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

I'm amazed that a Chevy Aveo was able to penetrate the wall, instead of just bouncing off.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Ann Arbor drivers are TERRIBLE. How is it even possible to do that??


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

With style.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

This is actually the third similar accident to occur at that intersection in the past few months. Bagel Fragel and No Thai! have also had cars through their storefronts very recently.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

Good thing no one was walking down the side walk.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

or in the bike lane!

Corey Wallace

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Corey (quoted for the article) here....I'll try to answer a few of those questions. The driver looked 'o.k.', she was sitting in a chair and trying to make a phone call as we were driving away. I think she was alone, I didn't see any passengers. 81Wolverine....I'd say there's 20 to 30 feet to the building, a small tree and a big curb. As the German said "That takes some talent."


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

glad to hear everyone is alright!!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

Oh brother!


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:20 p.m. Any information on who was driving the car and possible reasons why they hit the building? Those are kind of big pieces of the story I'd think. It's not completely surprising this happened since that building is VERY close to the road - much closer than most retail buildings around town. That short width of grass you see in the top picture is all that separates the restaurant from Plymouth Rd.

Cindy Heflin

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

81wolverine: Ann Arbor police have not been available to answer questions about the accident.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

No mention on the condition of the driver. Anything specific in the police report? It would be nice to know the cause of this accident.


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

The cause was an errant car crashed into the building because they failed to stay in the parking lot.....


Tue, Apr 24, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

"Ann Arbor police were unavailable Monday to provide information about the accident and what caused it." From the article.


Mon, Apr 23, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

That takes some talent!