At least three people were injured Monday morning when a truck driver lost consciousness and slammed into a Fairview business on Fifth Avenue, according to the Anchorage Fire Department.
Jodie Hettrick, the fire department's operations chief, said the wreck at AK Check Cashing at 1028 E. Fifth Ave. was first reported at about 11:55 a.m.
The accident happened about 10 minutes before the initial report, according to the Anchorage Police Department.
"An Alaska Waste trash collection truck was traveling westbound on 5th Avenue when the driver experienced a medical problem which rendered him unconscious causing him to collide with a building," APD said. A spokesperson did not immediately return a call for additional details.
An employee and a customer inside AK Check Cashing at the time suffered minor injuries from falling debris, police said.
The crash created a loud bang and shook the strip mall where AK Check Cashing operates, said Leo Gant. Gant works at Far North Supply two spaces down from the damaged business.
"I went to the door and saw the truck stuck in the building," Gant said. "People quickly started running up to the truck to make sure the driver was OK."
The wreck caused a sudden commotion at the mall, he said. The truck driver was able to respond to passersby after they called out to him several times, he said. Shortly after, police and firefighters crowded the scene.
Fifth Avenue was temporarily closed at Karluk Street, but by 1 p.m. two lanes had reopened. The scene was cleared by 3:30, police said.
About a dozen Fire Department units were sent to the scene, including firefighters whose job was to assess the building's structural integrity.
"Anytime that we have a vehicle that hits a building, we question the building's stability," Hettrick said. "So we send a couple extra units for that — we send enough people to deal with that and search the vehicle and building for patients."
The building sustained major damage, police said after the scene was cleared. Firefighters reinforced the building to remove the truck safely, they said.
By about 5 p.m., a construction crew was securing plywood to the large hole punched in the front and side of the building. Three feet of debris piled up in the business, and destroyed building materials filled a large dumpster nearby.