A suspected car thief who allegedly was drunk crashed a minivan into Route 66’s iconic Summit Inn restaurant on the summit of Cajon Pass in Southern California, according to several media outlets.
According to the Press-Enterprise, Jayson Ernest Johnson, 37, of Riverside, Calif., was arrested Thursday on suspicion of being drunk in public, stealing a vehicle, possessing stolen property and drunken driving.
In the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, Johnson was driving north on Interstate 15 in a silver 2002 Dodge Caravan — which had been reported stolen from an auto shop on Magnolia Avenue in Riverside, some 35-40 miles away — CHP Officer Leon Lopez said.
Just south of Oak Hill Road in the Cajon Pass, he careered off the freeway, plowed through a fence and smashed into the Summit Inn restaurant on Mariposa Road, Lopez said.
The crash was reported to the CHP about 4:15 a.m. When officers arrived, they found the car has destroyed a wall of the restaurant and came to rest completely inside the kitchen, Lopez said.
KCBS-TV in Los Angeles filed this video report.
Longtime roadie Jim Conkle emailed this photo of he and Summit Inn owner C.A. Stevens at the big hole the driver left behind:
The TV station said it may be weeks before the restaurant’s wall is repaired and it reopens.
The Summit Inn has operated at its present site since 1952, although its roots in the Cajon Pass area date to the late 1920s. Notable celebrities who’ve gone there include Elvis Presley, Pierce Brosnan, Clint Eastwood and Danny Thomas.
UPDATE: According to a story in the Victorville Daily Press this morning, the restaurant suffered about $50,000 in damage, mostly to the kitchen area. The owner says it will take two weeks to get back open.
The crash also broke open gas lines in the kitchen. So it seems lucky the Summit Inn didn’t catch fire.
The Daily Press also posted this video:
(Image of the Summit Inn’s sign by Lynn Friedman via Flickr)