Even though "the carnage is pretty bad . . . we really are very lucky," said Hiru Moolchandani, 54, an owner of the Patchogue audio systems business that was slammed into Tuesday by a driver whom police said had stolen an SUV.
Only four employees and two customers were in the store, she said, with one woman suffering "nonlife-threatening injuries" and refusing medical attention at the scene, Suffolk County police said.
Though all involved are OK "and well . . . unfortunately, the building itself wasn't so lucky," according to the Facebook page of Avenue Sound, 260 E. Main St.
The 2008 Honda, driven by Michael Nash, 20, of 45 Whippoorwill Lane, Patchogue, "was fully into the building," police said.
Nash had jumped into the Honda, parked with the keys in the ignition outside a Patchogue Jiffy Lube, and an officer saw him drive away and tried to pull him over, police said. Nash continued "at a high rate of speed and eventually lost control," police said, plowing into the storefront about 2:45 p.m.
The vehicle was stopped by a support column that blocks a counter where people were standing, said Moolchandani.
"We had so much inventory in the front," she said, and 80- to 100-pound boxes were thrown halfway into the store.
Nash was charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree attempted grand larceny, third-degree unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle and second-degree reckless endangerment. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday, and bail was set at $50,000, bond at $100,000. He is due back in court on Monday.
With the front window boarded up, Moolchandani was on site Wednesday assessing damage, meeting with an engineer and waiting for the insurance adjuster. As to the estimated cost of repairs and potential reopening date, she said, "at this point we're kind of short on answers ourselves."
Picturing the store on Saturday morning, crowded with customers, she said "thank God" the crash didn't happen then. Even the storefront's "huge cinder blocks" that were thrown into and across the store Tuesday didn't hit anyone.
"Thank God," she said. "That's all I have to say."