Irmo auto repair shop without waiting room after a driver crashed through it

Posted 12/20/22

An Irmo automotive shop is still operating after a vehicle drove through its waiting area.

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Irmo auto repair shop without waiting room after a driver crashed through it


An Irmo automotive shop is still operating after a truck drove through its waiting area.

On the night of Dec. 12, a driver sped through Minnie’s Auto Repair, a female-owned shop at 6220 St Andrews Rd., leaving several walls damaged before exiting on the other side of the building. The shop is still in business but currently has no waiting area for guests while their vehicles are being serviced.

“First you're kind of angry because it's so much damage,” said owner Claudia Donnelley. “Then you kind of get sad because we built all of this kind of ourselves and when we did the whole renovation, set it all up nicely and then this.”

Donnelley told the Chronicle that they don’t know when they’ll be able to repair the waiting room, but they were happy to find out that they were still able to operate.

“People don't necessarily realize how a small business like this runs,” Donnelley said. “If [we] don't have customers, we don't make money. It's not like we're just a big corporate thing where it doesn't matter how many people call. It matters.” 

On the shop’s Facebook page, members of the community have come together to brainstorm ideas for how the business can accommodate customers without a waiting room. Suggestions included partnering with coffee shops or restaurants and using a mobile office trailer or a tent with heaters.

Donnelley said sometimes she can feel invisible, but the support following the accident has shown her how much the people around her care.

According to Sloane Valentino, assistant chief of operations for the Irmo Fire District, the building was not shored on the night of the incident since hazards were unable to be seen. On Dec. 13, a structural engineer was on the scene and helped the department find the best possible option to stabilize the building, including putting a post in place.

“We take protecting the community pretty seriously and it's not just lives, it's also assets, and even if it’s not lives, it's livelihoods,” Valentino said.

The operations chief told the chronicle that the district has a very well-rounded team with some members trained in building construction and swift water rescue, among other expertises. He said that each training takes around 40-80 hours, with the structure typically being one day in a classroom setting and then four days of hands-on training.

“We're the ones out there that are going to be in the position to do something immediately,” Valentino said. “There really aren't any other companies out there that can respond as quickly and effectively as we can.”


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