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SUV crashes through front of Sur La Table store in Santa Rosa

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A woman who had shopped Thursday at the upscale kitchenware retailer Sur La Table in Santa Rosa wound up driving back inside, shattering the glass entranceway and sending merchandise crashing onto the floor of the Montgomery Village store.

Store employees were startled but no one was injured in the 2:40 p.m. crash, which ended with the woman’s blue Toyota RAV4 at rest near the cashier’s station, with a streak of black skid marks on the floor.

Marti Laskey, the store manager, said she was ringing up a customer’s purchase and watched what happened in disbelief.

“I heard this weird noise and looked up,” she said. “I saw the car driving through my door. It kept coming.”

Recounting the crash about an hour after it happened, Laskey said, “I don’t think my pulse has gone down yet.”

Jude Affronti, the store’s resident chef who teaches cooking classes, was in a back room.

“I heard some squealing sounds, almost like a dog yelping,” he said. “Then a boom, crash and a cascade of things falling.”

Employees’ first concern was to make sure no one was under the car, Affronti said. Then they ushered customers out a side door.

Laskey said damage to the store and merchandise would run into tens of thousands of dollars. Among the ruined items on the floor, including colorful Halloween and fall kitchen decorations, was a $2,000 metal duck press, used to squeeze the juice out of cooked ducks, Affronti said.

Santa Rosa firefighters found the woman sitting behind the wheel of her SUV, helped her out and checked her for injuries, Battalion Chief Mark Basque said.

Firefighters were initially concerned about some red liquid leaking from underneath the SUV but determined it was balsamic vinegar, he said.

“Nobody was hurt, that’s all that really matters,” said Laskey, who has managed the store, part of a Seattle-based national chain, for nine years. “It’s just stuff (that was lost).”

The woman had parked directly in front of the store on Magowan Drive, just to one side of a protective post. Assistant manager Cassie Brown said she started to back away, then came forward, with her vehicle coming over a concrete curb before penetrating the storefront.

“It was like slow motion,” Brown said.

Laskey said the store would likely be closed Friday and could possibly reopen by the weekend.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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