QUINCY — As an auto mechanic, Craig Croteau is used to loud sounds. But even he was surprised by the boom he heard late Wednesday morning when a dump truck fell through the roof of a two-story parking garage next to his Mobil gas station.
About 50 vehicles remain trapped in the partially collapsed garage, according to police.
“I turned the corner and saw the nose of a truck peeking out of the roof and a guy climbing out,” Croteau said. “He told me he’d just wanted to turn around.”
The driver, whose name has not been released, was shaken up by his tumble and perhaps a little embarrassed, but no one was injured. He asked for a cigarette, which Croteau promptly provided, he said with a laugh.
Police said the driver was following GPS directions when he turned into a parking area near the intersection of Furnace Brook Parkway and Copeland Street in Quincy, thinking it was a through way.
“It appears that [the truck driver] was using GPS and came off the exit of a no-truck route because he was following his GPS and he was trying to turn around,” said Quincy police Sergeant Karyn Barkas, a department spokeswoman.
As the driver was attempting to turn around, a seam in the roof of the parking garage gave way under the weight of the truck, which was full of gravel. The rear of the vehicle fell downward toward the floor below, while the front remained on the top level.
The truck was removed from the garage around 4 a.m. Thursday, Barkas said.
Police evacuated two buildings attached to the garage — one four-story and one three-story — that are home to a number of medical offices. The buildings reopened around noon Thursday, but about 50 cars — 10 or so on the top floor of the garage and 40 on the bottom floor — remained inaccessible because of debris.
The gravel from the truck had been removed and sat in a heap near fallen chunks of broken cement and bent reinforcement rods near the center of the garage. Only a luckless red sedan appeared to be damaged by the fallen debris.
A crew from the Quincy Inspectional Services Department rolled other vehicles away from the scene by placing dollies under the wheels. The department will evaluate the extent of the damage and review what repairs need to be made before the garage is cleared for use, code enforcement officer Ken Burke said.
John Whitney, who manages the property for Baystate Property Management, said a crane was used to remove the truck before sunrise Thursday.
Because of the low ceilings on the bottom level, the truck could not be extracted from below.
Whitney said the truck belongs to G & G fuel company of Brockton.
A therapist who was with a client at the time of the crash arrived Thursday morning to grab a few items from her trapped sedan, which was parked a few yards from the collapsed deck. The woman, who declined to give her name, and other employees described feeling the ground shake before looking outside to see the falling truck. She shook her head as she pointed out the rusty buttresses in the garage.
Whitney said he hopes the trapped cars will be reunited with their owners by this weekend but could not promise anything until the damage was fully assessed. Barkas said the company is building a temporary wall.
Globe correspondent Maria Lovato contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Jordan Frias can be reached at email@example.com.