(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The rideshare driver who crashed into Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse last month likely experienced “a medical emergency” before driving into the building, police say.
This preliminary explanation comes after Arlington County police previously ruled out drunk driving as well as malicious intent.
The crash set fire to the popular pub, situated next to the “T” intersection of N. Courthouse Road and Wilson Blvd, during a local company’s happy hour event. It triggered a large emergency response and road closures as people fled the fiery scene. More than a dozen people were hurt.
Police said today that all three pub-goers who were hospitalized with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries have now been released — a little over a month after they were admitted. One patient was still in critical condition and two others were in stable condition within a week of the crash.
The seriously injured people are expected to undergo a rehabilitation process as they continue to recover, we’re told.
In all, 15 people were injured, including nine brought to local hospitals. Of them, three were Four Courts employees hospitalized for less serious injuries, including smoke inhalation.
Four Courts Managing Partner Dave Cahill told ARLnow that the patrons who were seriously injured may not have survived but for other quick-thinking fellow pub-goers, including a volunteer firefighter, as well as first responders who arrived on scene just moments after the crash.
“Our thoughts and prayers have been with them for this whole time,” Cahill said of the victims. “They’re regulars who come in here all the time… we’re happy that they’ve started the next stage of recovery.”
Building inspectors determined that Four Courts is structurally sound but not fit for occupancy due to the extensive damage.
The pub is planning to rebuild, funded in part by a now-closed GoFundMe campaign that blew well past its $50,000 goal, raising just over $95,000. Tonight, fellow Arlington Irish pub Samuel Beckett’s (2800 S. Randolph Street) is hosting a fundraiser and silent auction for Four Courts staff.
Cahill told ARLnow today that insurance and other matters are still being worked out before construction can begin that would allow at least part of the pub to reopen. If demolition starts soon, he said, the best case scenario would be reopening in late spring or early summer of 2023.
When the doors swing back open, he wants customers to feel like nothing has changed, and for regulars to request the same TV channels and sit in the same seats they’ve sat in for years.
“We’re going to work and recreate Four Courts as close back to the original as possible,” he said. “We don’t want people to walk in here and think they’re in a different place. Things will be updated, obviously, but we want people to feel at home in the Four Courts.”
The only thing that many repeat customers would miss would be their personal mugs. Four Courts had a mug club with more than 1,475 mugs people purchased; added their names, football team logos and family crests to; and drank from whenever they came in.
“We lost a lot of mugs,” he said. “When the fire came, it melted the mug and left the handle. We’re sad about that. That was a big part of the brand.”
Uber, the rideshare company that the driver was reportedly working for at the time of the crash, has so far not responded to an inquiry made earlier today by ARLnow. Cahill said the San Francisco-based company is conducting its own investigation into the crash, which has delayed a potential reopening due to the need to preserve evidence.
“We presume it has started,” he said. “It’s been five weeks. We’re frustrated by that. We don’t understand what’s taking so long.”
Police, meanwhile, are still asking the public for more information.
“Detectives continue to encourage anyone with information related to this incident to contact Detective K. Stahl at [email protected] or 703-228-7145,” the Arlington County Police Department said in a press release. “Information may also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.”
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