Van slams into Providence restaurant, driver taken to hospital

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Investigators are trying to determine what caused a van to careen into a Providence restaurant Monday evening.

Officials say, Michael Ducharme, 56, of Hope was operating the van when it slammed into El Chapin restaurant on Plainfield Street – right near the on-ramp to the 6-10 Connector and I-95.

Ducharme was found unconscious behind the wheel and given a dose of Narcan, said Lt. Roger Aspinall. However, officials on scene said he was not seriously hurt and was taken to Rhode Island Hospital as a precaution.

The building was clearly compromised and crews worked for about four hours to secure it before removing the van.

“One of the center pillars that supports the roof was taken out by the van, so we have to shore up the roof. If we don’t and we extricate the van from the building the roof is going to come down,” explained Battalion Chief Tom Cassin.

According to police, the van struck four parked cars before veering into the building.

Eyewitness News spoke with a worker who was inside the restaurant at the time of the crash. She said there was only one customer in the business at the time and they were both on the other side of the restaurant and were able to escape unhurt.

Oscar Lopez is the owner’s son.

He kept the destruction in perspective. “We don’t mind, that’s material. That get’s fixed. But he could have killed somebody in there,” he said.

Ducharme was charged for DWI and refusing a blood test.

Eyewitness News reporter Kelly Sullivan went live on Facebook with an update from the scene.