UPDATE: Driver may have been huffing before city hall crash - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Driver may have been huffing before city hall crash


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Eau Claire police believe the driver who crashed into city hall Tuesday night may have been huffing.

Denise Marten was arrested for operating under the influence. It's her 3-rd offense.

Police say she was driving down East Grand Avenue when she smashed into an entrance on the building's south side. Marten was not seriously hurt, and no one else was injured. Eau Claire police say they found items in her car that led them to believe she may have been huffing.

"Marten did indicate that several days prior, she had been huffing intoxicants, however she did not admit to huffing earlier that day, so we'll be conducting an investigation and waiting for results from the state crime lab to determine exactly what types of intoxicants were in her blood stream at the time of the crash," says Officer Kyle Roder.

The city says it's working with its insurance company to put a price on the damage, and figure out who's responsible for the costs. 

"It's fortunate that nobody was injured. It was a pretty significant event, we had substantial damage to the outside of the building, nothing structural. We're still working on the costs, so we do not have a cost estimate at this time, and we're actually looking at all options, so we'll have to take a peek and see if we want to put exactly back what was there before or not," says Russ Van Gompel, Eau Claire's City Manager.

Marten is expected to be charged in the next few days. The results from the state crime lab could take several weeks.


Eau Claire (WQOW) - A woman is arrested, after driving straight into city hall. It happened around 5:30 Tuesday night at the South entrance to city hall. Police say 42-year-old Denise Marten drove her car into the building. Someone who was inside the building at the time said it sounded like an explosion had gone off. She was not injured. Police say it's lucky that no one was walking on the sidewalk.

"The structural stability of the building is good, but there is some damage that will still have to be assessed after the car is moved," says Eau Claire Battalion Chief Allyn Bertrang.

Crews removed the car from the building around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. The power had to be shut off at city hall. The city manager says that entrance will be closed.

Marten was arrested for third offense operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and abuse of hazardous substances. She sustained minor injuries in the crash.


Eau Claire (WQOW) - A developing story out of downtown Eau Claire Tuesday evening, a car crashed into the side of City Hall. It's on the south side of the building, just off of East Grand Avenue. It happened just after 5:30pm.

A WQOW News 18 reporter is on the scene and says one person was in the vehicle and is being evaluated for injuries.

An Eau Claire Battalion Chief says the driver is not hurt.

The vehicle crashed into an entry way leading into the building. No one inside the building was hurt. 

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