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Local

Econo Lodge canopy collapses

No injuries reported, hotel still open

The front entrance canopy of Econo Lodge Inn & Suites in Newton collapsed Wednesday, seemingly by accident, causing damages to the canopy itself, the outdoor overhead ceiling, roof siding and hotel signage. No injuries were reported.

Owner Raj Patel said he had just returned home from a night shift, ready to sleep, when he received a call from his wife, Hema Patel, who told him the canopy had fallen down, and he needed to get back to the hotel, located on the 1400 block of West 19th Street South. He said the accident happened around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“Doesn’t it look like a tornado came in?” Raj Patel said Wednesday afternoon while surveying the damages.

Initially suspecting a semi truck had accidentally hit the canopy, Raj and Hema Patel later discovered from a Newton police officer the canopy “just fell down” on its own. Hema Patel said the officer, who arrived on the scene around 4 p.m., walked over to the neighboring business, Okoboji Grill and saw video surveillance footage of the incident and determined no criminal action had taken place.

The on-scene police officer said he was not authorized to speak to the Newton Daily News about the event or give any further details.

Raj Patel said he contacted his electrician to remove any exposed hanging wires from the damaged canopy. The Econo Lodge Inn & Suites owner also called his insurance agent who traveled from Des Moines to snap photographs of the damages and instructed Raj Patel to remove the debris. Luckily, he said, no one had been injured and there were no damages to nearby vehicles.

Raj Patel, who has owned the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites for 20 years, said he has never witnessed any damage of this size. The hotel had also recently renovated its interior space, as well as its 75 rooms. Despite the damages, Raj Patel insisted the building stay open for guests, even going so far as to sweep away pieces of the canopy to make an open and clean entryway.

“I’m still open,” he said. “I’ve got a full house.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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