By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — Insurance will cover the cost of repairs to the East End Fire Station, which was severely damaged by an alleged drunk driver Dec. 8, city officials said.
Jose Almonte, 42, of 113 Boston St., was seriously injured after his Mercedes SUV slammed head-on into the station, pushing the left side of the building off its foundation, wrecking the garage door and buckling and cracking much of the brick wall.
Police said Almonte will be summonsed for driving while under the influence of liquor and a marked lanes violation.
On Monday, Methuen Public Works Director Raymond DiFiore told the City Council that Almonte’s auto insurance will cover the first $100,000 of the repairs. Any additional cost up to $100,000 will be covered by the city’s building insurance, DiFiore said.
“The station will be put back exactly the way it was,” said DiFiore. “Whatever was damaged as a result of this accident will be taken care of, and it will be paid by the insurance company.”
DiFiore is awaiting a final damage report from a structural engineer. But he said the overall cost of repairs is not expected to exceed $200,000. “We will walk away with no money out of pocket, which is a good thing,” he said.
Shortly after the crash, a contractor built a temporary wall along the left side of the building to provide support. On Saturday, the structural engineer tore out the ceiling to ensure the trusses weren’t damaged.
“We’ve had a company go in, jack up the front to make it safe temporarily and board up that one side,” said DiFiore.
DiFiore said he hopes repair work on the station will begin in a matter of weeks.