An effort to block the doorway of their southwest Santa Rosa market with a pickup to prevent overnight thefts turned disastrous for the store owners Thursday night when the truck driver stepped on the gas instead of the brake.
Gonzalo Chavez's wife, Maria Soccoro, was in front of the truck in the doorway of Chavez Market, guiding her husband into position, when he inadvertently hit the accelerator and struck her as he punched through the exterior wall, Santa Rosa police and fire personnel said.
Soccoro's arm was seriously injured in the 9:37 p.m. accident, losing some flesh from the impact of her husband's Ford Ranger pickup, according to their son, Luis Chavez.
She underwent emergency surgery at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and remained hospitalized Friday, Luis Chavez said.
He and others said Gonzalo Chavez, 53, was decidedly distressed by the incident that left his wife injured.
"He's hurting over it," Luis Chavez said Friday during a brief stop at the market on Sebastopol and North Wright roads.
The crash and ensuing damage to the building and contents also compounds the couple's financial challenges, friends said.
The Chavezes have owned the market for about three years but have not been able to fully realize their plans because of battles over permits for beer sales and a cafe they hope eventually to have at the market, Luis Chavez said.
A couple of months ago, a thief broke through the glass front door to steal cigarettes, and they haven't been able even to repair the door, boarding it over instead, he said.
As a precaution, Gonzalo Chavez has been parking his silver truck directly in front of the door each night to block access to it, his son said.
It was unclear how he mistook the gas pedal for the brake Thursday night, but he somehow hurt his foot, as well, Luis Chavez said.
The truck ended up inside the store, displacing metal racks, strewing the floor with merchandise and leaving chunks of wall plaster scattered about.
The truck was in front of the store Friday, covered with chunks of shattered glass and other debris.
"I couldn't believe it when I got here," Luis Chavez said.
You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.