Questions remain after Denny’s sign crashes in Elizabethtown

The incident occurred at the Denny’s at North Mulberry Street.
The incident occurred at the Denny’s at North Mulberry Street.(WAVE)
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 11:21 PM EST
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ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) - Days after a Denny’s sign came crashing down on a car in Elizabethtown, several questions still remain about the cause of the incident.

An Elizabethtown police spokesperson said around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, officers responded to reports of the restaurant’s sign falling from a pole and landing onto a car.

“There were occupants inside the vehicle that the sign landed on,” E-Town Police spokesperson Chris Denham said Thursday. “The occupants did have to be extracted by Elizabethtown Fire Department and Hardin County EMS.”

The sign smashed a car sitting underneath, killing 72-year-old Lillian Curtis.

Days later, Curtis’ husband Lloyd Curtis died in the hospital.

“You survive, and then you get with a therapist and you fall apart and you work on your grief and then you get back up,” Curtis’ granddaughter Mary Howard. said. “And then the next day, you do it all over again. And you don’t stop, you don’t give in to the grief, because you can get stuck in that.”

After the incident, several questions have still been left unanswered about how and why the sign fell off its place.

Documents WAVE News obtained Tuesday night show the sign was erected in 1992, after a sign permit application was submitted to Elizabethtown’s Department of Planning and Development

The sign was designed as a free-standing, high-rise sign that’s 80 feet tall.

Eight years later, in February of 2000, the sign received its first complaint from the city of Elizabethtown. The paperwork said “material on your sign has been torn away from the frame.”

That complaint was closed in August.

In 2005, another permit application was filed with Eizabethtown to change the sign and update the Denny’s logo.

That work was performed by SignMakers of Hardin County, Inc. A representative for the company told WAVE News Tuesday the company was contracted to do the work

In 2009 and 2015, the property received two more notices from the city, one for a tag sign and the other for a “flag/pennant” sign in front of the property.

The documents do not answer any questions about inspections and who is responsible for them.

Public Protection Cabinet spokesperson Ricki Gardenhire told WAVE News in a statement Tuesday, “signs are not something that require permitting and inspection pursuant to the Kentucky Building Code. As a result, DHBC (Department of Housing, Building and Construction) does not inspect them.”

WAVE News asked Denham Tuesday if any local municipalities monitor sign inspection.

In a statement, he said, “there is no municipal mandate requiring signs to be inspected. It is the responsibility of the entity exercising authority over the property to perform routine inspections and necessary maintenance.”

Denham said Lloyd Curtis’ death is still under investigation by the Adair County Coroner and may not be correlated to the sign crash.

WAVE News also submitted an open records request to Elizabethtown Police for the investigative file of the incident, but have been denied, because the department’s investigation is still ongoing.