(C. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, June 3, 2012)
It was just before 2pm on Sunday when a man in a dirty black Monte Carlo decided to make a turn-around in the GM Renaissance Center circular drive. Unwittingly he dinged the front of the building, causing a crack in one of the long glass panels that housed the revolving door. For the record, I did not see the accident but I walked up just after it happened, as the driver was discussing it with the security guard.
Though the damage was minor, the security guard told the driver that he would need to wait until police came so they could make a report.
At first the driver, a black male who appeared in his 30s, asked the guard not to call, saying it was an accident. She was friendly, but she told him that with damage like that they needed to make a police report. She said more security would be there shortly. With his car parked perpendicular across the drive, facing the building, the guard asked him to pull off to the side to wait for the police.
He seemed to be getting more defensive, but not in any way that seemed physical or threatening. He said something about insurance paying for the glass. She again asked him to pull his car off to the side. “You can’t just stay parked like this,” she said.
This is the point that I walked past them. My interest had been mildly piqued by the damage to the glass from the minor accident, but apart from the guy not wanting the security guard to call the police, it didn’t seem like there was much to worry about. I was there working on another story.
I walked through the very revolving door that the Monte Carlo had just hit. The damage had not bad enough to impact its use, though I may well have been the last one to use it given what happened next.
My intent had been to ask security where I could go to get good pictures of Hart Plaza. But since they were busy I headed downstairs for a snack from the food court and when I came back up the stairs they were starting to block off the area. The Monte Carlo had smashed the front of the building and the driver was nowhere in sight, having already been arrested.
Apparently after I’d gone inside, the driver slammed on the gas and headed right for the building, mangling the frame of the revolving door and sending glass from several tall panels everywhere. A witness said the man told the guard that if he was going to jail for hitting the building that he may as well drive right through it, and a similar remark was heard while listening to police tell the incident to other police who arrived after the crash.
Crews came to replace the door within a few hours of the crash, which I also was able to see later in the afternoon. The GM Renaissance Center is the world headquarters for General Motors, as well as other corporations. The 73-storey center tower has six other towers connected to it, making it a dominant fixture on the Detroit skyline.
Because it was Sunday, much of the center was closed and there were not many people around. One woman, wearing flip flops, had a minor injury of glass in her foot. The driver was taken to a security office in the Ren. Center to be examined, and having no major injuries, was then taken to jail according to police.