SUV slams into Homewood Dairy Queen; owners plan to rebuild

HOMEWOOD, Ill. (WLS) -- The Dairy Queen on Ridge Road has been a staple in south suburban Homewood for more than 50 years. An SUV crashed into the shop early Tuesday morning, causing severe damage to the building.

The owners of the ice cream shop said they will rebuild and re-open the family-owned business.

"It has been in my family for 51 years this year," Kelly Welsh said. "My aunt is in the building every day, my sister does all the book work, my brother does all the ordering and I run day-to-day operations. So really, the whole family is really involved in it."

The Dairy Queen employs 22 local children and has done so for many years. Seeing the damage was devastating for the family and its employees.

"I did not look at the building right away. I kind of stayed about block back, just because this is my whole life, so it was really hard for me to walk up and see a car sticking out of my building, you know?" Welsh said.

Homewood police said around 3:30 a.m., the driver of a Ford Expedition lost control and slammed into the Dairy Queen.

Neighbors heard screeching tires and a loud bang.

"Heard a big screech and a bang. My wife and I immediately came outside a minute or two later. Looked to our left, saw the vehicle had already impacted the building and was all the way into it," said Rich Wojcikowski, who lives nearby.

The SUV ended up so far into the building that the structure needs to be evaluated.

There were two people inside the vehicle. Both made it out and were transported to the hospital.

Many neighbors said they had stories to share about working at the Dairy Queen, spending time there or waiting for the doors to open every year. The Welsh family said they have gotten support from many Homewood residents and want them all to know the Dairy Queen is not going anywhere.

"The answer is 'yes.' A rebuild is coming your way, the sooner the better," Welsh said.

The building department will evaluate the property. The family said whatever part of the building they can save, they will. In time, they plan to celebrate a grand re-opening.
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