SCHENECTADY – Patrons at Schenectady’s Rookies Bar & Grill all happened to be in the right part of the bar when they narrowly escaped injury Thursday night as a van crashed through the front of the establishment, surveillance video shows.
The van had just been involved in a two-vehicle collision at a nearby intersection. No serious injuries were reported by either driver and no one in the bar was hurt, authorities said.
The crash, however, caused extensive damage to the 1526 Van Vranken Ave. bar, but Joe Hartigan, husband of Rookies owner Susan Rivette, said Friday they will reopen.
Inside Rookies, the surveillance video showed exactly how that extensive damage happened – and how the patrons escaped injury.
About a half dozen could be seen in the bar area when the van crashed through Thursday night, but all of the patrons happened to be away from the bar’s front wall area at the time of the crash, the video shows. The bartender, too.
One patron came especially close – he is seen entering through the bar’s front door just 10 seconds before impact, the video shows. That patron could be seen going deeper into the bar to greet other patrons, shaking the hand of one as he moved further out of the way of the oncoming van.
In the moment after the van hit, the patrons could be seen reacting and rushing away, before turning back to assess what had just happened.
The surveillance video, courtesy Rookies:
Usually, the bars right up front are occupied, Hartigan said. “At that time, nobody was sitting there and usually those are full,” Hartigan said Friday. “And if there were people in it, they would have been hurt, or worse.”
Rivette provided the inside surveillance video to The Daily Gazette Friday, along with one clip showing the crash from the outside, on condition The Daily Gazette blur out the patrons to respect their privacy.
The crash into the bar resulted from an initial accident at the nearby intersection of Van Vranken Avenue and Hattie Street, police said Friday.
The van was headed south on Van Vranken, toward Hattie, when the second vehicle, a car, was headed east on Hattie, police spokesman Sgt. Pat Irwin said Friday.
Police determined the car had the green light, while the van had the red light as the van went into the intersection, hit the car and then veered into Rookies, Irwin said.
The drivers were each alone in their vehicles, Irwin said. Both were taken for evaluation.
The van driver, who was not identified, was issued two citations. Drugs and alcohol were determined not to have been factors, Irwin said.
Hartigan recalled arriving about a half hour after the crash, after being summoned by his wife, who had been alerted by the bartender. Rivette was out of the area Thursday evening.
Hartigan described many of those inside as regulars, who immediately turned to offer to help out in any way possible. Family and friends then helped clean up as best they could. The front was boarded up Friday and Hartigan met with an insurance adjuster.
The cost of repairs and the length of time it will take to complete them are still unknown, Hartigan said.
“We’re going to fix it up,” he said. “We’re going to be back in business.”