Two drink coolers were knocked over when a hit-and-run car slammed into Penn’s Grocery Market in York City about 4 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.
Two drink coolers were knocked over when a hit-and-run car slammed into Penn's Grocery Market in York City about 4 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Young Kwon)

Even as the owner of Penn's Grocery Market waited for reporters to leave so he could close for repairs, a steady stream of customers kept darting in.

A young woman holding an infant wordlessly paid for two jars of baby food, unfazed by the sunshine coming through a buckled wall. An older man surveyed the damage as he waited to buy lottery tickets.

"That's a shame, man," a third customer said of the damage caused when an out-of-control vehicle slammed into a side wall of the 25 S. Penn St. corner store about 4 a.m. Tuesday.

"People are so used to this store," said Young Kwon as he watched customers stream in and out. Kwon is a brother-in-law of Kyung Kim, who has owned Penn's Grocery Market for about 20 years.

Owner Kyung Kim stands outside Penn’s Grocery Market.
Owner Kyung Kim stands outside Penn's Grocery Market. (Photo by Randy Flaum)

Of course there's the standard selection of sodas, snacks and food staples. But where else can a customer find a pink Ms. Fix-It mini glue gun, hair extensions, crayons and swimming goggles all in one small store?

Quick fix likely: A temporary repair could ensure customers don't have to wait more than a day to get their necessities, Kwon said.

"That's what we hope," he said. "I think it's going to happen."

Kwon said he's relieved the hit-and-run crash happened while the store was closed, because two soda coolers against the damaged wall fell over.

The huge coolers landed in front of the cash register and lottery machine, and soda bottles spilled everywhere.

Close call: "Anyone standing there was going to be dead," Kwon said.

Penn's Grocery is in the back of the Market & Penn Street Farmers Market building, at the corner of South Penn Street and Mason Avenue. The crash knocked loose bricks in the wall facing Mason Avenue, and police have temporarily closed that portion of the alley.

Market master Jimmy Ilyes said a crew of masons are scheduled to do a temporary fix later Tuesday, so Kim can reopen his store and police can reopen that portion of Mason Avenue.

The farmers market remains open.

Building safe: An engineer with C.S. Davidson inspected the damage and determined the building is safe, according to York City building and codes inspector Steve Buffington.

"There's a pretty significant hole in the wall and damage to an interior wall of the grocery store," he said. "There are repairs that need to be made, but there are no concerns about structural integrity at this time."

Buffington said he ordered Penn's Grocery to close until the wall is temporarily repaired and inspected, and said he sees no reason why that can't be a quick process.

"It's a significant hit to lose a day's worth of business," he said.

The crash: York City Police said Kevin O. Thomas, 27, of 72 N. Tremont St., was driving northbound on South Penn Street when he struck a parked car, spun out of control and crashed into the market building.

Thomas -- who allegedly borrowed his girlfriend's Dodge without permission -- took off, leaving the Dodge's rear bumper and license plate at the scene, according to police.

The damaged Dodge caught the attention of York County Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Dreyer, who was nearby and on duty, police said.

Dreyer called 911, then followed Thomas to the 800 block of Wallace Street, where Thomas' girlfriend lives, police said. Dreyer did not use his lights or siren, according to the sheriff's office.

The investigation is ongoing, city police Lt. Kevin Girling said.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.