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Woman, sister escape injury when car slams into Braintree dry cleaners

By Katherine Landergan
Globe Correspondent / October 5, 2011

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BRAINTREE - A man drove his car into a dry cleaners store here last night, narrowly missing the owner and her sister and nearly causing an explosion.

The owner of Champion Dry Cleaners, Minh Mguyen of Quincy, said that she and her sister were in the part of the store closest to the main road a minute before the crash occurred. A customer entered, so she and her sister went to the opposite side of the store.

Then Mguyen said she heard a noise that sounded like a bomb going off.

The front of the store, located at 1721 Washington St., was completely torn off, and the equipment inside was destroyed by the incoming vehicle.

“I have very bad luck,’’ said Mguyen, who has owned the store for 12 years. “But I’m very lucky. I am still alive.’’

Mguyen said the crash occurred at 6:30 p.m. and a witness called 911. She did not see the man inside the vehicle, but she said she saw “Veteran 4’’ at the bottom of his license plate.

The driver was taken to a nearby hospital with injuries that were not life threatening, said Peter Morin, chief of staff to the Braintree mayor.

Morin said the call was received by Braintree Fire Department at 6:32 last night. Braintree police and fire and units from other towns in Norfolk County responded, he said.

A building inspector told Morin that the car had hit a gas valve, shutting down the gas flow in the building. If the gas had not been cut off, the vehicle’s impact would have caused an explosion, Morin said.

A hazmat team also responded to the scene to remove petroleum-based chemicals used in the dry cleaning process from the building, said Morin. Though the chemicals themselves are not dangerous, they can become hazardous when mixed with water, he said.

With the heavy rainfall in Braintree last night, police and fire officials wanted to be extra cautious.

“They want to address that, and then they will board it up,’’ said Morin.

The car was found tilted 90 degrees, two-thirds of the way into the front of the store, said Morin. Officials used a saw and the Jaws of Life to remove the man from the vehicle.

The entire cleanup process took hours, according to Morin.

Mguyen said that minutes after the crash, people from the surrounding stores rushed to the scene to check on her. She was not concerned as much about her business, which sustained extensive damage, but was grateful for her friends, she said.

“I love the people here,’’ Mguyen said.

Globe correspondent Derek J. Anderson contributed to this report. Katherine Landergan can be reached at