WHEELING - Visitors at WesBanco Arena on Saturday got more than they bargained for when a local man drove his pick-up truck up the front steps of the building, narrowly missing several patrons entering and exiting the Home & Garden Show inside.
Witnesses said the incident happened so fast it was amazing no one was injured. Wheeling police quickly responded and took the driver, William Albert Boo Jr. into custody. When police arrived, the driver was sitting calmly on the tailgate of truck. His truck was towed from the scene and arena employees cleaned up debris and chunks of snow and ice littering the steps and front plaza.
Stunned spectators stood by as they watched Boo try to explain the situation to police. According to witnesses, Boo appeared to have intentionally driven onto the steps and was overheard saying, "But I had my flashers on."
Photo by Heather Ziegler
William Albert Boo Jr. sits on the tailgate of his pickup truck after he drove the vehicle up the steps and onto the plaza in front of WesBanco Arena on Saturday. Wheeling Police Officer Sean Brantly is shown with Boo.
Boo, 54, of Covington, Ind., was cited for failure to maintain control and destruction of property. His truck was towed from the scene.
Denny Magruder, executive director of the arena, said he was grateful no one was hurt as a result of Boo choosing to park at the door of the facility. "I thought it was a preview of the Thunder Nationals," Magruder said.
The Monster Jam - Thunder Nationals, featuring oversized trucks, is coming to WesBanco Arena on Feb 21-23.
While portions of the front of the arena have pole barriers along the sidewalk, there are no poles in front of the main entrance steps. Magruder said no one has ever attempted to drive a vehicle up the steps until Saturday. Three police units responded to the arena. Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger also was there, attending the home show with his wife and daughter.
Meanwhile, Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce President Terry Sterling said Saturday's attendance at the Chamber's 45th annual Home & Garden Show was the largest in the past 10 years.
The show continues today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
"I think because today is a beautiful but cold day, people want to get out of the house. The vendors are telling me that it has been a very strong day for them. They are doing business," Sterling said Saturday.
This is the final home show under Sterling's direction as he is retiring in March after 20 years at the helm of the chamber. Major home show sponsor DeNoon Lumber experienced many inquiries from potential customers. Denoon retail salesman John Marsh on Saturday said, "The show is going very well. I think the crowd is a lot larger this year. I've had a lot of people asking about our floors, door and other products. It's been good."
Marsh said DeNoon has an extensive following from customers in the Wheeling-St. Clairsville-Moundsville areas, and he finds the people "great to work with."
Also having a positive response from visitors on Saturday was Del Suppo Inc. Pool and Spa from Donora, Pa. Spokesman Jason Weslager said planning for a pool or spa should begin before spring to ensure installation by summer. "It's hard to get people interested in pools in the winter but that's the best time to get a good deal and to have your pool ready when you want it."
In addition to home and garden attractions, the home show offers dozens of crafters and food items.