Suspected DUI crash has left suburban Chiacgo co-op business shut down

FOREST PARK, Ill. (CBS) — A suspected drunken driving crash in the western suburbs is causing some long-term damage – in a literal sense.

The driver smashed into a store that more than a dozen small business vendors call home. As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Tuesday night, those businesses have now lost out at one of the busiest times of year.

Along Madison Street in Forest Park as a whole, businesses were still seeing the holiday crowds trickle in on this day after Christmas. But not so at M.E. Marketplace Retail Co-Op & Model Esteem.

“We can’t operate,” said Shettima Webb.

The fine pieces of glass that have been left on the brick outside M.E. Marketplace are a reminder of what brought Webb’s co-op business to a halt.

“When they said a car ran into the store, my first reaction was, how?” said Webb.

Video shows a sport-utility vehicle sitting out front, late on the night of Sunday, Dec. 17. Neighbors recorded Forest Park police arresting the driver, 55-year-old Marie DeRose, on allegations of driving drunk.

Police said DeRose was behind the wheel of the SUV as it jumped the curb and came racing down street. It slammed right into Webb’s store — leaving many perplexed that night.

But just over a week later, Webb is mainly angry.

“She managed to get away to get away without getting hurt, which I’m happy about, and happy no one was in the store,” said Webb, “but still, at the end of the day, we’re at a loss as a business.”

Webb’s co-op business includes 15 separate vendors wo use the storefront to sell and display unique items.

“We custom-make things in terms of body butters, handmade items. We have crotchet items,” she said.

These are all items that require buyers to see in person – and since the crash days before the holiday, Webb and her vendors have lost out bigtime.

“These are small business owners; hardworking people that, you know, rent space from in order to operate their business,” Webb said, “and now they’re out.”

When police say DeRose drove the SUV into the store drunk, it did more than shatter glass. She rocked the foundation of the building – leaving a repair bill currently sitting at $50,000, Webb said.

“That was the quote given to me just today,” she said.

Webb’s landlord set up a GoFundMe to help with daily expenses that all 14 vendors at M.E. Marketplace are losing until the store can reopen.

“You need the GoFundMe account, because you have to wait on insurance,” Webb said. “I know what it’s going to cover, because I still have business loss – don’t know if all of my vendors will come back.”

But Webb hopes with New Year’s Eve days away, others will think twice before driving drunk too,

“But accidents like this – I’m pretty sure when she walked out of the door, she didn’t know that she was going to hit my store,” Webb said. “You know, and it’s a trickle-down effect.”

In a police report, an officer reported that DeRose had slow, slurred speech and a slow response time after the crash. DeRose claimed to have bad knees and two lazy eyes and refused to take a field sobriety test – and she was arrested, the report said.

Police found 19 Colazopin pills in DeRose’s purse, which she denied taking. They were not in a proper prescription bottle, the police report said.

While in custody at the police station, DeRose began acting erratically – trying to tie her shoes that had no laces, and not knowing where she was – saying she believed she was in Melrose Park, the police report said.

DeRose was taken to Rush Oak Park Hospital for evaluation due to her irrational behavior, the police report said.

She appeared in court on Tuesday and will make another appearance on Jan. 9.

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