According to a report filed by Patrolman Jordan Tindol, Norberto Hernandez, 85, was parallel parking in front of the Schulz and Wroten Pharmacy on North Washington Street at about 10:20 a.m. The man was backing into a parking space when his boot became tangled on the brake pedal of his 2001 Buick Regal.
As Hernandez tried to get his foot free, it hit the gas pedal, sending his vehicle backward over the planting area, across another parking space, over the curb and completely into the old theater.
Tindol said no citations were issued following the accident and Hernandez was all right.
The incident is still under investigation.
Police estimate the damage would run into the thousands of dollars, but members of the Hall-Rialto Preservation Association had no concrete figures as of Thursday afternoon. According to a report, Hernandez was insured.
Thursday’s wreck comes on the heels of the renovated theater’s open house last month and the upcoming benefit scheduled this month.
Louise Hall, a member of the Hall-Rialto Preservation Association, said, “The tragedy of this is the front of that theater is Vitrolite.
“It is a building product from the 1920s and ’30s.”
This isn’t something that can be bought at the local hardware store.
Vitrolite is a special structural glass that is no longer produced anywhere.
“The material is only from salvaged buildings,” she said. “To find that red is going to be very difficult.”
They are going to need about 20 blocks or more of what is dubbed “Rialto Red” to repair the outside wall.
“We had enough to repair on the inside without having the front smashed,” she said.
The repair work also takes special skills that few persons have.
Tim Dunn, out of St. Louis, has done work like this in the past for the association.
“This man is one of the few in the United States that does it.”
Until they can get him back down to Beeville and the work done, they have no other option.
“For the time being all we can do is board it up,” Hall said.
But work will go on and the preservation association will still hold events, such as the upcoming play, to continue raising money to open the theater.
On Dec. 8, during Beeville Main Street’s downtown Christmas celebration, the Rialto group held an open house inviting everyone to see what work was finished and what still needed to be done.
Hundreds toured the historic theater.
The March theatrical production is still a go with auditions beginning later this month. The date and times of the auditions will be announced later.
“You have to keep working and keep moving,” she said.