Parking trouble led to van crashing into jewelry store
A driver lost control of a handicapped-accessible van Saturday afternoon and drove into the Casa D'Oro jewelry store located in the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Marshall.
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An ill-advised change in drivers may have led to a van crashing into a jewelry store in Marshall on Saturday while dozens of shoppers were inside.
The store's owner said the driver of the handicapped-accessible van lost control as she was trying to park and rammed the vehicle through the side of the Casa D'Oro jewelry store at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday.
No one in the store was hurt, even though there were about 100 people shopping and 12 employees working inside, said Reza Liaghat, owner of the large jewelry store, which is in the Four Points by Sheraton hotel.
The unnamed female driver appeared to have hit her head but was otherwise unharmed before she was taken to a local hospital by ambulance, he said.
"Everyone is fine, thank God," said Mr. Liaghat, who has run his store out of the hotel space for 29 years. "But it was pretty scary."
Northern Regional Police are still investigating the accident and would not comment.
Mr. Liaghat said the accident occurred when the owner of the van, a woman who requires a wheelchair for mobility, was trying to park her van in a spot about 100 to 150 feet from the side of the store.
A car had parked too close to the handicapped parking spot, though, and an elderly woman in the van with the driver -- who may have been her mother -- apparently offered to park the van for her, Mr. Liaghat said.
The van did not have a traditional car seat where the driver would sit, so that the wheelchair can fit in that space when the woman is driving. So, when the driver got out and the elderly woman tried to park the van for her, she had to squat to get behind the wheel and get her foot to the gas and brake, Mr. Liaghat said.
But after the elderly woman gave the van some gas, she apparently lost control. The van jumped the curb and came barreling toward the building at a high rate of speed, Mr. Liaghat said.
A jewelry store employee was making coffee at a machine in the store on that side of the building and "saw the van heading right toward her and had just a second or two to get out of the way," he said.
The van crashed through the side of the building, smashed the coffee maker, and then plowed into a 30-foot long jewelry case that held rings, bracelets and other fine jewelry made of gold and pearls, he said.
"You look up and there was glass exploding everywhere and then it was over," Mr. Liaghat said. "The coffee machine was on fire, but we put it out."
Mr. Liaghat quickly checked on the driver, who had hit her head, but she said she was OK.
His staff took a vote and agreed to clean up, close off the portion of the store where the crash occurred, and stay open Saturday, rather than close for the day.
"I have a great staff and this is why," he said. "We just tried to make lemonade from lemons."
First Published December 9, 2012 12:00 am