History of crashes at Fuller's reviewed

Village president says records contradict claims of serious accidents at car wash

Following residents’ comments at recent Hinsdale Village Board meetings regarding serious accidents at Fuller’s Car Wash, Village President Tom Cauley decided to do some research of his own.

“There were a couple of residents who stood up and talked about previous accidents at the site, and it just didn’t ring a bell with me at all,” Cauley told The Hinsdalean Wednesday morning. “After that, I went back and had the police pull the reports and go through it.

“It just didn’t jibe with what residents were saying had happened as far as the accidents. I actually went so far as to have the transcripts of what the residents said typed up and compared them to the police reports to make sure I wasn’t missing something,” he added.

At Tuesday night’s village board meeting, he reviewed the four accidents that occurred prior to the fatal crash that killed 14-year-old Sean Richards in July 2023.

“As I stated in the past two meetings, the board deeply sympathizes with the Richards family following the tragic loss of their son, Sean,” Cauley said at the meeting.

He then reviewed the four accidents.

In July 2007, a BMW driven by a 62-year-old man exiting the Fuller’s lot struck a Honda traveling on southbound Lincoln Street. There was minor damage and no injuries.

“The owners of both cars were in control of their cars at the time of the accident,” Cauley said.

In November 2009, a Cadillac driven by a 68-year-old man inadvertently pulled forward while waiting in line to enter the car wash and hit a Toyota and its driver, who was putting something in the trunk. That driver refused treatment by the Hinsdale Fire Department. The driver of the Cadillac then over-corrected and backed into the Mercedes Benz that was behind him in line waiting to enter the car wash.

“The owners of both vehicles were in control of their cars,” Cauley said. “No one working at Fuller’s had anything to do with this accident.”

In May 2022, an unoccupied Honda exited the car wash and struck an unoccupied Jeep that was in front of it. The Jeep then rolled into a Lexus parked on Lincoln. The car wash was closed at the time and the staff was running a car through the wash for detailing. The Lexus suffered minor damage.

“All of the vehicles were unattended. All of them had their engines off. None of the cars sustained more than minimal damage,” Cauley said.

He then circled back to an accident that occurred in January 2009. A Jeep exiting the car wash accelerated without warning. The attendant in the Jeep attempted to stop it by applying the brakes but was unable to do so. The Jeep struck an unoccupied vehicle in front of the dry cleaners at 11 S. Lincoln, and the force of the impact sent the vehicle into the dry cleaners.

“Upon investigation into this matter, it was determined that there was a nationwide problem with certain Jeeps having similar acceleration issues,” Cauley said.

The car wash has been operating since 1962, Cauley said, and there is no record of accidents prior to 2007. He said Wednesday he had the fire department check its records as well.

Cauley shared a graph showing the number of accidents at other busy locations in town — the Mobil station, the Shell station and Grant Square. From 2019 to date, there have been 33 accidents at the Shell station, 21 at Grant Square and five at the Mobil station.

“Maybe there’s more we can do there, too,” Cauley said. “My point is that the number of accidents at Fuller’s doesn’t jump out as an area that is unique in the village as far as the number of traffic accidents involved on the property.”

Cauley also discussed the new bollards that will be installed outside the car wash exit. At the request of residents, two engineers have reviewed the plan, including one on staff with bollard manufacturer.

“We have a certification by (the manufacturer’s) engineer, that is approved by our engineer, that says the bollards we are going to put in place will stop a car going 40 miles per hour that weighs 5,000 pounds,” Cauley said.

The new bollards also will be installed 3 feet closer to the car wash than the ones in place now.

“I think it would be very difficult for a car to get up to 40 miles per hour,” Cauley said.

The village is ordering the bollards, which cost $7,000, but will be reimbursed by Fullers for that and any other expenses the it has incurred. The bollards will be delivered later this week and will be installed after plans are fine-tuned and a contractor is selected. An engineer will oversee the installation to make sure they are installed according to drawings, Cauley said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean