HALEYVILLE - Emergency responders and city officials swarmed the scene at Goar’s supermarket Monday morning, Oct. 8, after a vehicle crashed through the south entrance door, scattering debris and alarming store personnel and customers.
No injuries were reported to customers inside the store.
Bill Waldrop, 88, of Haleyville, who accidentally drove a gray four-door Toyota Camry through one of the store’s main doors and walls, noted he received just minor injuries to one of his legs as a result of the accident.
“I am thankful I didn’t get hurt no more than I did, but I wasn’t going that fast,” recalled Waldrop.
“I pulled in to park there and my foot slipped off the brake and hit the gas,” Waldrop said.
“I know that’s not like me,” he added. “I am just upset about the whole thing, but I can’t help that. I just can’t believe something like this would happen so quick.”
Owner Tim Goar was inside the store when the incident occurred.
“It sounded like a bomb went off,” Goar said. “I was in the office and could see what happened. The car was sitting inside.”
At this point, Goar got into the back seat of the car in order to talk to and try to help Waldrop, since the man was trapped and couldn’t get out of the vehicle.
“He couldn’t get out either door because he was boxed in, plus all the airbags went off,“ Goar noted. “I could tell he was OK.”
The vehicle struck hard, crashing through and removing the door, the door frame and some of the side block wall.
The crash pushed debris, including broken glass, door parts and other items into a breezeway area of the store that’s on the same side of the store as the produce department and Robert’s Hometown Pharmacy.
“There was a customer nearly going out the door,” Goar pointed out. “She was heading that way.”
However, Robert Ellis, owner of the pharmacy, stopped her to ask a question. When she came back to the pharmacy counter, the car crashed into the building, Goar said.
“The young lady was here at the pharmacy counter and we finished the transaction. She was heading out when we discovered she has a new telephone number,” Ellis recalled.
“I said, ‘Come back. Let me get that phone number.’ She was giving me the phone number as the car came through the door,” Ellis added.
“I heard an explosion. I thought something had blown up,” he added. “When I heard it, I turned and saw an enormous amount of debris coming through the room. I realized what it was.”
Ellis also went to assist the man, not being able to get him out of the vehicle.
Shortly after the call, emergency responders arrived, including the Haleyville Police Department, fire department and medics with Regional Paramedical Service ambulance.
Firefighters assisted in removing Waldrop from the vehicle, and Waldrop was escorted by police and fire personnel to the back seat of a patrol car, where he was tended to by RPS medics.
Waldrop’s injuries were not serious enough for him to be transported from the scene.
Lyle’s Wrecker Service of Haleyville also arrived on the scene with a long trailer, removed the car from the wreckage of the door and placed it on the trailer to be transported from the scene.
Once the vehicle was removed from the door, yellow tape was placed across the damaged door to secure the area.
“It could have been a lot worse,” added Ellis. “That young lady could have been struck by a car. Anyone could have been going (out that door).
Ellis also referred to the high volume of people going in and out of that door each day, including customers and employees.
“Anything could have happened,” he said. “It’s probably the best outcome it could have been. The man was not hurt. Bystanders were not hurt.”
Haleyville Mayor Ken Sunseri also came on the scene.
“It’s unfortunate the accident took place,” Sunseri said. “I am proud of the first responders, their quick reaction to the situation.
“However, it is going to be detrimental to the business until they are able to get this repaired,” Sunseri added.
Goar commended the emergency responders for their quick response and the jobs they did.
Goar was in contact with his insurance company to have the door replaced. Until then, that entrance of the store will be closed off, with business operating as usual. Access to the building will be through the door at the north side.
Waldrop, served in the U.S. Army in Korea, he said.
This marks the first time a vehicle has actually crashed into Goar’s, Goar said.
Milder incidents in the past include a vehicle striking the ice machine outside the store and a vehicle hitting the side the store, damaging the brick work, he said.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.