Running a little late may have taken McDuffie County Code Enforcement Officer Gail Newsome out of the way of danger Tuesday afternoon.
Had she been on time for lunch at Waffle House, she would have been sitting in a vehicle's path at her table inside the restaurant. Ms. Newsome had planned on meeting Tim Mosley from the Health Department.
One person was killed and two were injured Tuesday afternoon when a Chevrolet Caprice crashed into the Waffle House just south of Interstate 20.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
Mr. Mosley wasn't quite as lucky. He was injured by flying glass as a Chevrolet Caprice swerved off Washington Road and slammed through the restaurant wall.
One other person was injured and Waffle House waitress Teresa Carlisle, 40, was killed in the accident.
"Tim said he saw it coming and there was no reaction time," Ms. Newsome said. "He stood up, but there was no place to go."
Georgia State Patrol Trooper Powell Allen said the 18-year-old driver lost control while pulling on to Washington Road from North Seymour Drive. Heavy rains from the remnants of hurricane Frances caused slippery conditions that he said contributed to the accident.
"The driver lost control, traveled off the roadway and actually drove 27 feet into Waffle House striking three pedestrians, two injured and one was fatally wounded," Trooper Allen said.
According to Rhusha Mack, McDuffie County's deputy coroner, Ms. Carlisle was struck by the car inside the restaurant and was pronounced dead at McDuffie Regional Medical Center after an attempt was made to airlift her to the Medical College of Georgia.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation and three charges against the driver -- who was uninjured -- are pending, said Trooper Allen. He said he would not name the driver until the investigation was complete.
The car went through the West side of the restaurant, which is located South of I-20, taking glass, metal and tables with it. It came to a stop inside the building just before 1 p.m. while the restaurant was still buzzing with lunch-hour customers.
Waffle House Cook Willie Brinkley said he was talking to someone when the car crashed into the building. He never saw it coming.
"It just happened all of a sudden," he said.
McDuffie County Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Sewell, who worked the scene in his role of EMT, said this is one of the stranger accidents he's seen.
"You're sitting in a restaurant and you just don't think about somebody driving through the wall while you're sitting there. You feel pretty safe inside," he said. "We don't get a lot of cars, especially driven that far into the building."