Truck driver takes out credit union canopy

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PUTNEY — The River Valley Credit Union will remain closed likely until the end of the week due to an accident early Monday morning where a tractor trailer ripped off the bank's drive-up window canopy.

It is the fifth time the canopy has been seriously damaged since 2011, when the credit union opened at that location, said Jeff Morse, chief executive officer of the Brattleboro-based credit union.

"The drive-up canopy is completely gone," he said.

He said he hoped to have the Putney branch reopened by the end of the week.

"We want to make sure that's it's structurally sound and safe for the members and the employees," he said.

Morse said he had called in a structural engineer to assess the damage. He said there is concern that the accident did damage to the overall structure of the building. He said when someone stands inside the bank, you can see daylight through cracks in the walls.

No one was hurt in the accident, which happened at about 3 a.m., when Guy Paull, 64, of Westminster, tried to drive his 2015 International tractor trailer the wrong way around the building.

According to the Vermont State Police, Paull waited for police to respond to the scene. Paull ignored signs that banned trucks and trailers and also cautioned that the lot was not to be used to turn around vehicles. He also ignored the sign against left hand turns, Morse said.

"The whole thing was captured on video," he said, referring to the credit union's security cameras.

The Putney credit union drive-thru canopy has been plagued with problems, Morse said, and he said the credit union would be reviewing the design.

Mike McGrath of Dompier Electric of Brattleboro was already working to sort out the electric problems the accident created. He said the bank had had to turn off electricity because of the accident.

Morse said the credit union branch employs five people; one person is on leave and the other four have been temporarily moved to other locations.

He said he hoped the accident and closure of the bank wouldn't disrupt customers, but he said they can use locations in either Brattleboro or Bellows Falls.

The credit union opened the Putney branch in the current location in 2011. He said he believed the building originally was a gift shop. "It's been a few different things, but it's a great location," he said.

He said the first time the canopy was damaged was in 2012, and it also involved a tractor trailer. Another time involved an oversized camper, he said.

"We're not quite sure what we're going to do. We're going to have to rethink it. The key is to prevent the oversized vehicles from using it. This can't keep happening," he said. He said he believed Paull's insurance would cover the damage.

In addition to demolishing the canopy and damaging the credit union building, Paull's trailer sustained what police described as "substantial passenger side damage."

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.

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