The driver who allegedly ran into a pedal pub from behind as it was crossing the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis was drunk at the time, police said Thursday.
The collision occurred about 9:55 p.m. Wednesday as the patron-powered pedal pub approached downtown. A dozen of the 13 people on the four-wheeled vehicle were injured, police said.
Of the injured, nine were treated and released, and the other three remained in the Hennepin County Medical Center in satisfactory condition Thursday night, hospital spokeswoman Christine Hill said.
The car’s driver, Mershon L. Corbett, 35, is being held in the Hennepin County jail without bail on suspicion of gross-misdemeanor drunken driving and felony criminal vehicular operation causing injury. Police say he was not injured.
The bicycle-powered pedal pub struck the curb and tipped over to its left after it was hit, trapping three of the riders underneath the cart, said police spokesman Scott Seroka. Several passersby lifted the pub to free the pinned riders, he added.
Soon after the crash, Seroka described some of the injuries as “significant” but not life-threatening.
Hill identified the patrons still in the hospital as Matt Peyton, 32; Murali Bontha, 44; and Lisa Helland, 31. The pedal pub’s operator, Tyler B. Guthrie, 34, of Minneapolis, was among those treated and released.
Police say the victims are not only from the Twin Cities area but also from California, Georgia and Texas. Cities of residence were not immediately available for everyone on the pedal pub.
The crash was the first between a car and a pedal pub owned by PedalPub Twin Cities. The company has done more than 11,000 tours in Minneapolis in the past nine years.
Al Boyce, co-owner of PedalPub Twin Cities, said the company’s “thoughts and prayers are with the people who were injured.”
The cart had about 5 to 10 minutes to go in its outing as it headed toward downtown, Boyce said. He said the vehicle is “pretty well lit” with taillights, blinkers and signs. Boyce said he was waiting to learn more about the collision, adding, “The motorist is expected to be charged.”
On May 23, marauding bicyclists threw water balloons and fired squirt guns at PedalPub Twin Cities patrons. The ambushes led to five people being arrested downtown. Four of them had the misdemeanor charges dropped this week.
The clashes spawned a spirited debate on social media and talk radio in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the country about the very existence of pedal pubs, which are licensed by the city. Those slow-moving carts are often seen during the warmer months along the downtown streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Uptown and the northeast neighborhoods of Minneapolis.
Proprietors and customers view them as harmless fun, while detractors lament the mobile party atmosphere and noise.
In 2013, Minneapolis passed rules regulating pedal pubs and requiring licenses. Some of the limitations include that pedal pubs operate only until 10 p.m. unless for special events. The owners are required to hold $2 million in liability insurance. St. Paul passed its own regulations in 2012.
A Minneapolis spokesman said Thursday a pedal pub was involved in another crash in August 2013, but it didn’t involve a car. During that incident, a pedal pub tipped onto its side after making a right turn, sending two passengers to the hospital and slightly injuring several others. The driver of the pedal pub was issued a civil citation for unsafe operation.
In the wake of this week’s crash, the city will conduct a license review after the police investigation has been completed.
City Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents the ward where the incident took place, said it was his understanding that the pedal pub was operating in compliance with the law.
“Regardless of whether you have a soft spot for pedal pubs or hate them, in this instance they were hit by a drunken driver,” Frey said.