BILLINGS — D-BAT Baseball and Softball Academy owner Brandon Wood was picking up the pieces after a pickup truck crashed and drove an estimated 50 feet into his business at Rimrock Mall in Billings early Monday morning.
“It’s going to be tough for sure. When those kids get out of school, a lot of them will come and use our machines to practice themselves. We have between eight and 15 lessons that we teach," Wood said on Monday evening.
A Ford F-150 drove right through the business's front doors, damaging merchandise, plumbing, walls, doors and the ceiling of the business. The truck also damaged batting cages and the pitching bullpen in the business.
A former Major League Baseball player himself, Wood opened D-BAT in June 2020. The business offers baseball and softball lessons along with walk-in batting practice. Wood said he's unsure how long it will take before he can open back up to baseball players.
“I wouldn’t say that this place has to be fixed in full to be back up and running. We’ll get the cage, the baseball, softball side of it fixed ASAP so we can continue delivering on that end. But I’m a first-time business owner and this is a first-time accident like this that I’ve ever experienced. So I’m a little unsure of how long it’s going to be, but we’ll get back at it," Wood said.
While the damage to his business is extensive, Wood said his heart is with the person who was driving the truck. According to the Billings Police Department, a 63-year-old man was transported to a local hospital after the crash.
“To me, that’s all stuff that can be fixed through insurance and hard work and making the right phone calls. Really our thoughts are out for the gentleman that went through the business. We don’t know exactly how good of shape he was in. I heard he was in surgery and they’re having a much worse day than we are. So this kind of pales in comparison to that family, so we’re just kind of praying for them and hoping that he is okay. And we’ll get this fixed in time,” Wood said.
Now, wood said his mind is on his students and five employees, who have an uncertain few weeks ahead of them.
"Our minds are on them and what we can do to make it right to them while we’re closed. And just anything and everything you can think of is floating through our brains, but no panic. You know, things happen. My dad taught me a long time ago that if it can be fixed, then don’t spend too much time worrying about it. So we’re just going to try to get going," Wood said.
As news of the accident spread over the course of Monday, Wood said he received plenty of calls and texts from friends and clients wanting to help out in any way that they can.
"I’ve gotten tons of text messages and phone calls today from friends and clients and people that come to our business for fun just offering up help or dinners or watching our kids. So a lot of people are reaching out and that means more to us than the pain of what happened today. It’s nice to see the community come out and help," Wood said.
Wood's family has organized a GoFundMe page to help support the family, as repairs could drag on for months. Click here to view the page.