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Damage from fiery car crash forces months-long closure of Tin City

NBC2 Fort Myers
NBC2 Fort Myers
 2022-12-01
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NAPLES, Fla. — The City of Naples told NBC2 that they believe Tin City will survive the fiery crash that occurred on November 25.

This all comes at the heels of Hurricane Ian, which put the fishing centre turned artisan market under feet of water in early October.

“Tin City has been around for 101 years. This building has too, so when we got the flood all the water from the river came up which was the muddy water, so what we did was remedied it — cleaned it — replaced drywall getting all the units back in shape for the tenants to come back and do a rebuild of their individual stores. All their inventory got devastated so it’s been pretty devastating for the last 50 to 60 days,” said Craig Ekonomos, the property manager for Tin City.

Since then, all thirty-plus businesses outside of the Pincher’s restaurant have been closed.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Police documents provided to NBC2 show Stephen Luis Alfredo was driving down Goodlette Frank S. in Naples at around 120 miles per hour around 1:30 a.m. when he lost control of his vehicle.

“Before I could finish the sentence, I said, that’s not going to end well – It literally went straight through under the light, and I knew it hit a building because I stay here. This is the area where I live. I didn’t see a car turn left or right. Just went straight through and you know as we’re driving closer, we see smoke coming from the building and we call — we were the ones to call 911. It was only us two on the roads, no one else. No one else caught the crash but us,” said Stacey Sylvestre, an eyewitness.

Alfredo “failed to stop or slow down,” according to the report. The Nissan Altima hit the curb at the intersection between Goodlette Frank S. and U.S. 41, traveled about thirty yards airborne, and struck the Naples Winery at Tin City. The car then traveled through the building and exited in the rear.

“I thought he died. We stood outside literally for over an hour. We saw the cops. We heard the cops. They were running around the building. We thought he died,” said Sylvestre.

Alfredo claimed he “blacked out” prior to the crash.

The car reportedly burst into flames when fire crews arrived on the scene.

According to the report, the driver was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.

“I thought he got stuck the way the cops were — but to see — imagine how fast that must’ve been,” said Sylvestre.

No other injuries have been reported at this time.

The driver was charged with reckless driving.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Since the crash, City of Naples building inspectors have conducted an initial assessment.

“There was a lot of damage to the exterior structural components of that building. There was also interior structural damage to walls, a lot of shelves, rack systems that got destroyed and scattered about. A lot of that debris came out the back of the vehicle,” said Thomas Tucker, the Deputy Building Official for the City of Naples.

The City of Naples’ inspection revealed severe damage to the Naples Winery at Tin City, and the building now has a no-occupancy order in place. The other businesses at the complex, who have been actively rebuilding to open their doors once again — will not be affected.

“The damage from the vehicle did not cause any damage to the adjoining tenant spaces at Tin City. They’re safe to occupy and to do what they need to do to open and continue their business,” said Tucker.

NBC2 asked Tucker and the City of Naples when they believed that Tin City would be ready to reopen following the crash and the hurricane damage from October.

“The components we’ve observed can definitely be built back. This type of project, if everything fell into place, could probably be done within, say 2-3 months,” said Tucker.

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