Manger Tracy Talley has worked at the Irish Pub for 20 years and says she looks forward to coming to work everyday to experience something new. But experiencing an SUV driving through the wall of the pub while she was on the clock was nothing she could have anticipated.
"It sounded like a bomb pretty much went off," said Talley. "Panic. Chaos. Kind of making sure, the first thing you want to do is make sure everyone is ok."
Pictures and cell phone video show the immediate aftermath of the crash. Debris dented the bar and the impact broke a water pipe but employees say they believe the strength of the building, built in 1900, saved it from further damage.
Just minutes before, Talley says a couple who was in the immediate path of the SUV had either gone to the restroom or had moved, and everyone involved escaped serious injury.
"For some reason or another, God took them another way. At that moment there was nobody there, a few minutes before that, there had been people there," said Talley.
On Monday, Atlantic City Police announced charges of DWI, careless driving and failure to stop when entering the roadway for the driver of the SUV, 50-year- old Donald Preston Jr. of Pleasantville, a man employees say briefly stopped inside the pub before the accident, but was never served and did not realize the damage he had done after the crash.
"He was never served, he just put on his coat and waved goodbye. I think he didn't expect to be served," said Talley.
"I don't think he was driving into the building. I just think he lost control of the car."
Throughout the day Monday, countless patrons arrived at the Irish Pub unaware of what had happened. Long time customers like Linda R. Schmall were forced to go somewhere else for lunch.
"We enjoy this place so much and enjoy this place every time we come here," said Schmall. "Its amazing no one was hurt inside, very amazing."
Even in the midst of this difficult time, Irish Pub employees say the outpouring of support from loyal patrons, both here and abroad, has been overwhelming.
"People from so far away, Canada, California, they're like that's our favorite bar, is everything ok, nobody got hurt that's good when's it open again," said Talley.
And while people were turned away Monday afternoon, staff hopes to have the pub open as soon as they can find a tarp big enough to cover the hole.
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