Papa Baldy’s Pizza worker Daniel Knorr (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer pizza restaurant deliberately smashed by truck

Two employees have minor injuries, police investigating

A pickup truck smashed through the window of a Red Deer pizzeria, hitting the front counter with such force that two employees were sent flying, said a fellow staffer.

Daniel Knorr said the gas-powered oven at Papa Baldy’s Pizza restaurant in West Park was also jogged by the collision. Luckily the gas line wasn’t severed, “otherwise the whole place could have blown.”

A cashier and pizza prep worker were inside the 57th Avenue restaurant when the crash happened, at about 9:05 p.m. Thursday — along with the cashier’s husband.

The employees sustained minor injuries, including bruising, but “they’re sure hurting today,” said Knorr, a delivery driver who wasn’t in the outlet during the incident.

But a big bang and the sound of shattered glass was heard in neighbouring businesses.

Red Deer RCMP, along with the General Investigation Section, are investigating what appears to be an intentional collision, according to the findings of a preliminary investigation.

“All efforts are being made to solve this crime and we are looking for public tips,” said Staff Sgt. Jeff McBeth.

The truck is described as a black Dodge Ram, loaded with concrete in the rear box. It sustained damage to the rear end. Anyone with information is asked to call 403-343-5575.

According to witnesses and surveillance camera footage, the truck backed up at full speed from one end of the parking lot straight into the restaurant’s front window.

“I don’t know what would drive someone to put people’s lives in danger,” said Knorr, who doesn’t know of any personal disputes that could have led to such an attack. He described the working atmosphere as “like a family.”

This is the second major blow to the pizzeria’s owner, known as Mama Baldy, or Eileen. Knorr said her husband, Papa Baldy, died suddenly in October.

While the owner was too upset to talk on Friday morning, Knorr said she was just getting through her grief and starting to build up the business that employs 12 people when this happens. “The whole thing is horrible,” he added.

Although Knorr believes the owner was insured, he doesn’t know when, or if, the restaurant will reopen.

Customers, who work at other businesses in the same strip mall, say the popular pizzeria was in the process of expanding into the empty bay next door. They hope it will reopen soon. “It has great product,” said Lee Anne Briggs, a grocery clerk. “It would be a shame to let something like this stop her.”

At the same time, Briggs noted the deliberate collision indicates “somebody does not want them open for business.”

“I’m appalled, and really sad for them. They’ve been through a lot,” said pharmacy clerk Danette Purdy. Co-worker Brooke Ranger said, the incident makes her angry; “Two people could have lost their lives.”

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Surveillance image of pickup truck. (Contributed by Red Deer RCMP).

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