No serious injuries, but district faces steep repair bill
By Brandi Makuski
A Stevens Point man is facing charges for his sixth OWI after crashing his vehicle into a school district building on Monday.
James Weber, 44, was cited and arrested Monday night for operating while intoxicated after crashing into the district’s support services building on Water Street. Assistant Police Chief Tom Zenner said Metro Fire, police and ambulance crews were dispatched to the scene at 5:22 PM.
According to Detective Sgt. Tony Babl, Webber was driving northbound on Water Street when his vehicle veered through the southbound lane and crashed into the side of the building. The vehicle had also flipped over during the crash.
Babl said Weber had to extricated from his vehicle, but “all his limbs were working and he was alert” when emergency crews placed him in a Portage Co. ambulance bound for Ministry St. Michael’s. Weber was released from the hospital later that night. Babl said results of a toxicology workup on Weber were pending.
Zenner said the department has requested charges against Weber.
“He was cited, and was informed at the hospital that he was under arrest for OWI, sixth offense, but he was not taken into custody at that time,” Zenner said.
But the accident has larger implications for school district officials. Don Keck, building and grounds director for the school district, said its “amazing” no one was seriously injured, but also pointed out the district now has to rethink security of its own infrastructure.
“The whole thing is pretty straight forward from our perspective; he crashed into our building,” Keck said.
According to Keck, the accident knocked out the district’s Internet and phone lines for about three hours. The incident left school board members unable to conduct business Monday night, but the accident will cause even bigger problems for the district because Keck said the driver had no insurance.
“We’ll have to bring in a contractor and get an estimate,” Keck said, “but I would say it’ll cost at least $10,000, maybe even $15,000 to fix this.”
Weber’s car crashed into the exact location where the district stores its servers, Keck said.
“It’s kind of funny, because we were just talking about making our phone and server system more robust,” Keck said. “What would we do if there was a fire at that building? Or a tornado? Now we have to seriously consider a backup location for all our servers, but that will be extremely expensive.”