The driver who crashed into the Uptown Walmart on Friday may have been suffering from a mental health crisis.
A man in his early 20s drove through a cinder block wall at Uptown Shopping Centre in Saanich just before 4:30 p.m. on April 9.
First responders arrived shortly after, with initial reports of an explosion due to the loud noise of the vehicle being driven through the wall.
Police, firefighters and paramedics swarmed the store and discovered the vehicle had crashed through the wall and into the interior of Walmart.
On Saturday, Deputy Fire Chief Frank Macdonald told Black Press Media the driver had gone through a wall on an upper level, through the store’s suspended ceiling and fell approximately 10 feet into the deli area below. The vehicle, pieces of ceiling, and other debris wedged the freezer door shut, trapping two employees in a walk-in freezer.
The driver managed to get out of the vehicle on his own and firefighters safely rescued the staff members. Only non-life-threatening injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
Macdonald added it was extremely lucky no one was gravely injured because “the level of devastation under the vehicle was extreme.”
On Tuesday, police confirmed the driver was believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of the incident and was taken to hospital for treatment.
Fire crews returned late Friday evening to remove the vehicle from the store with the help of a tow truck. A new hole had to be cut in the parkade wall, a floor below, to remove it because crews “couldn’t take it back out the same hole without lifting it up 10 feet,” Macdonald explained.
Kristy Lowes, general manager for Uptown Shopping Centre, confirmed Tuesday that the vehicle went through the wall on parkade level two and was removed from level one. She added that repairs are expected to take about a month, but Walmart has reopened and “everything is business as usual.”
The police investigation is ongoing.