, Newburyport, MA

January 29, 2013

Truck damages Divided House of Gifts

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — SALISBURY — Police are investigating whether a medical condition led to the male driver of a Dodge pickup truck traveling east on Elm Street to lose control yesterday morning and smash into the porch of the iconic Divided House of Gifts yesterday morning.

No one was inside the shop, which has been a fixture on the heavily used road for more than 40 years, when the truck slammed into the porch around 10:15 a.m. The driver of the truck was transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport after sustaining what a local firefighter called a medical emergency. The same fire official said the town’s building inspector was called to the scene to verify the shop was structurally sound.

Longtime owner Larry Cuddire said his store avoided serious damage thanks to an 8-foot-long railroad track planted 6 feet deep adjacent to the porch with the idea of protecting the building from cars and other vehicles. Without the steel rod, the truck would have traveled halfway through the store before coming to a stop, Cuddire said.

The force of the crash, which seriously damaged the truck, sent glass shards flying across the porch. A sideview mirror was found on a toy bed inside the porch and the truck’s plastic hood emblem landed next to the porch.

Cuddire said yesterday wasn’t the only time a vehicle had made contact with his store. About 10 years ago, a female driver traveling west fell asleep and crashed into the building.