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Tractor trailer crashes into Florida historic landmark Desert Inn and Restaurant in Yeehaw Junction

Posted at 11:57 AM, Dec 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-22 13:57:36-05

YEEHAW JUNCTION, FL — A tractor trailer crashed into the historic Desert Inn and Restaurant in Yeehaw Junction early Sunday morning.

Florida Highway Patrol says a 2018 semi truck hauling orange juice drove into the building at 3:15 a.m.

50-year-old Mareo Cawley of Chicago, Illinois told troopers that the area was dark and he did not realize he left the road.

No one was inside the building at the time of the crash

According to FHP, when tow trucks removed the truck, part of the building collapsed.

Cawley told WPTV, "When I got to that corner I couldn't see the ground, I couldn't see the lines or anything. It was too dark. I normally never travel at night but I wanted to get close to Jacksonville and I was trying to put myself into a good position."

"I messed up. I should have stayed at the other fueling station. I couldn't see the lines. If you go on that corner you don't see the lines on the street," Cawley said.

"I've never hit nobody before. I haven't had an accident in 20 years," he said.

Cawley told WPTV that following the crash, "I couldn't get out of any of the doors. Both of them was pinned. I had to climb out the window."

The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending against Cawley. He received minor injuries in the crash.

The site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

It sits at the intersection of State Road 60 and South Kenansville Road.

Photographer Michael Brown drove by the inn at approximately 6:30 a.m. and saw emergency vehicles and officials at the scene.

According to Wikipedia, as early as 1889 the Desert Inn was a bar room and brothel for cowboys and lumber workers. The Desert Inn closed in June 2018.