Driver crashes through grocery store - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Driver crashes through grocery store

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- A quiet morning at an east Texas grocery store is shattered after a vehicle comes barreling through the front door not once, but twice! The truck drove into Skinners grocery store in the 17-hundred block of Judson road in Longview just before 10 this morning. Fortunately, we're told no one was seriously hurt. Police say it appears the driver hit the gas when he meant to hit the brake. Around 20 to 30 customers were shopping inside Skinners when clerk Laura Black saw a truck driving toward the front doors.

"The truck through right here at a fast speed, and then he hit that brick column and his tires were sitting there spinning," Black says.

74 year old Joe Smitherman mistakenly hit the accelerator, hitting a car and then crashing through the doors, sending shards of debris and glass flying hundreds of feet and sending people ducking for cover.

"I'm trying to call 9-1-1 and he throws it back in drive and now he's coming at the store," said Skinners employee Kristen Macdonald.

"I just thought that he was going to hit the wall and leave, but he kept going back and then came through the store, instead of just putting it in reverse, he kept drive forward and putting it in reverse and going back," says Black.

As this store surveillance photo shows, a customer was only feet away when the truck crashed through. But that wasn't the only close call. The most frightening part for people who work at Skinners is when the driver backed up and nearly crashed into the fuel pumps.

"The immediate concern was number one the customers inside the store, number 2 is whether or not he had done any damage to gas pumps in the area," says Longview sergeant Richard Spruiell.

Smitherman went through the store and into the parking lot when he then hit a delivery truck.

"Just a loud bang when he hit that then screeching tires spinning and squealing, I was shaking and scared to death," says Macdonald.

A confused and disoriented Smitherman was transported to Longview regional hospital. No one was injured and in spite of the damage, Skinners will be open for business tomorrow. The driver was hospitalized, his condition has not been released. Police are still investigating and haven't decided is Smitherman will be ticketed.

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