UPDATE: 18-Wheeler crashes into church, driver taken to hospital - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: 18-Wheeler crashes into church, driver taken to hospital

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: A semi-truck crashed into First Baptist Church in Chattanooga Monday morning. Crews have been able to safely remove the truck.

The truck's fuel tanks were of concern to firefighters, fearing a possible rupture or explosion. A fuel leak was safely managed by the fire department, complicating the truck's removal.    

Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner said the crash may have caused structural damage to the building. A building inspector has been called in to access the damage. 

Police said the driver of the truck was loading a piece of equipment onto the truck bed when he noticed it started rolling down the hill, heading for the church.

"Not sure if there was mechanical failure or mal-adjustment on the brakes or if it was just the grade and gravity that overrode the system with the weight," said Sgt. John Luquer.

Behind the brick wall is the First Baptist Church's kitchen, where Billy Joe Johnson was inside cleaning.

"I'm a cook, cleaning my oven and I heard this bang and I looked up and the wall was coming out!" Johnson said.

The impact left several holes in the brick building and Johnson said it destroyed the inside kitchen. But no one inside the church was injured, and for that, Johnson is thankful.

"God's good to me," he said.

The equipment was contracted out to be used for the the big U.S. 27 construction project. TDOT said the contractor has insurance.

"Obviously they're at fault and there will have to be some insurance companies step up and take care of things the way it's normally done in an accident," said Sgt. Luquer.

The First Baptist Church is forced to close their kitchen until the repairs can be made.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

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