PORTLAND — Peter Brichetto Jr. figures he was 6 inches from death, or at least a serious head injury.

The Portland man, who owns Sonny’s Variety on Congress Street, had just closed the store Saturday night and was headed home at 11:30 p.m. At the light at St. John Street, he stopped his silver 2002 Cadillac DTS, which he has owned for about a month, then eased it forward when the light turned green.

The next thing he knew, he was covered with glass and people around him were yelling.

Somebody had dropped a football-sized rock onto his car from the railroad trestle that crosses over Park Avenue, smashing a hole in the windshield. Brichetto said he’s a big man so he sits back from the steering wheel. Good thing.

“Six inches more and I would have been dead. It would have split my head wide open,” Brichetto said. “I guess the steering wheel is bent. It must have hit that before it hit me.”

Witnesses saw the whole thing.

They described to police a young white man, possibly a teenager, with a blue hooded sweatshirt. Officers swarmed the area and used a police dog to track the suspect.

They followed his trail down the tracks to Deering Oaks, where it disappeared, said police Lt. Gary Rogers.

Police estimate the weight of the rock at 20 pounds, at least.

“The guy almost fell trying to throw it over the side,” Brichetto said, citing witnesses’ accounts.

Brichetto, who has run Sonny’s Variety since 1998, is a fixture in the neighborhood. The store has been in his family since 1985.

Brichetto believes that the attack was random, that he wasn’t targeted.

Even after losing consciousness and suffering scrapes on an arm and a large bruise on his chest, Brichetto declined to go to the hospital to get checked out. He said he doesn’t have health insurance.

Brichetto has contacted his city councilor and says the city should have the railroad erect a fence along the trestle to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“You hear about things like that,” he said, “but you never think it’s going to happen to you.”


Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]