Holiday shopping turned disastrous when a jewelry store customer accidentally slammed her minivan into the store.
Chandlee Jewelers in Oconee County is open again after last week's crash. The store's owner, Bryan Exum, said it's her Christmas miracle that none of her customers were killed in the accident.
"I look up and there's the hood of a car coming through my glass," said Exum.
Exum watched the whole crash unfold right in front of her while she worked.
"I checked to see if my daughter was okay, she was basically was under the diamond showcase," said Exum.
Exum's daughter, Chandlee Epps, was working with a customer right when the van careened into the store.
"I heard what I now know to be the revving of an engine," said Epps. "I looked to my right and blinked and there was a van in the store and my customer was missing."
Flying glass and the store's window's frame hit a customer, 63-year-old Rita Jones. Employees rushed to Jone's rescue.
"She said, ‘can you please help me up, where's my purse?'" said Exum. "She was all very sedate and smooth soft talking. She said her head hurt a little bit, I guess so - it was split open in the back, she now has 12-15 staples."
The minivan driver told police officers that a carbon-dioxide canister lodged itself against the gas pedal forced the vehicle into the store.
"The woman finally found the brakes, the pedal on the left," said Exum. "She did slam on brakes - we have the skid marks on the carpet still."
The store re-opened for business in a matter of days, but there is still visible damage on some of the showcases.
Exum said it's a miracle nobody was seriously injured.
"We ask now that everybody, we're ready for the Christmas rush, but if you don't mind please park outside first," Exum said, laughing.
Exum said the driver isn't facing any charges or citations for the accident. The losses at the store are more than $30,000, which includes the damage to the building and lost jewelry.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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