A big rig towing two trailers full of sawdust on Highway 101 crashed into a Hopland restaurant at about 3:50 a.m. Friday, the CHP reported.
The driver of the rig suffered moderate injuries when he swerved in a way that caused the big rig to cross the highway and smash into the Hopland Tap House, according to the CHP.
No one was inside the restaurant at the time. No other injuries were reported.
The driver, identified as C. Hammack, 48, of Willits, was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center, then flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment, the CHP said.
Hammack told emergency responders he was drinking coffee when he began choking and coughing just before losing control of the rig, said Hopland Fire Chief Mitch Franklin.
Hammack was able to crawl out of the truck and was assisted by the owner of a cafe located across the street, Franklin said.
The big rig remained inside the restaurant early Friday afternoon as efforts were made to stabilize the historic structure, built in 1891, according to county assessor records.
“We’re trying to take our time and save it as much as possible,” Franklin said. “It’s a piece of history in Hopland.”
A structural engineer was overseeing the work, which included building temporary walls, he said. The semi struck an internal brick wall, Franklin said. The brick portion that fronts the landmark building, formerly home to the Mendocino Brewing Company, appeared intact.
Air was being let out of the vehicle’s tires and gasoline drained in preparation for its removal during the early afternoon, he said.
Highway 101 was open, but was expected to be closed during the removal, Franklin said.
He said he expects the restaurant to be closed “for awhile. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 707-=462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MendoReporter