Video shows car crashing into Publix

11:39 AM, Apr 18, 2012   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Car slams into Publix, injuring 10

 

PALM COAST, Florida (WKMG/CBS12) -- Shoppers in a central Florida supermarket say their routine was shattered by a car that plowed through a store entrance.

Ten people were injured Saturday when a 76-year-old woman crashed her car into the Publix in Palm Coast.

Photo Gallery: Car slams into Publix, injuring 10

Two people were seriously injured, including an elderly man pinned beneath the car, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Eight others suffered minor injuries, including a baby strapped into an infant seat in a shopping cart and a teenage girl, troopers said.

Customers told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that the crash hurled shoppers into flower arrangements and potato chip displays.

Also, for the first time, authorities released 911 calls in the crash. On the calls to police, screaming is heard in the background and witnesses describe the aftermath.

CALLER: Oh my God.
DISPATCH: You said the driver's OK, correct?
CALLER: Yes, ma'am, but there's a person pinned under the car.
DISPATCH: You said somebody's pinned?
CALLER: Yes, ma'am.
DISPATCH: Alright. Stay on the phone with me, alright? You're doing fine. Stay on the phone with me for a minute.

Mark Tsistinas was near the store's frozen seafood section when he heard a loud crash followed by screams. As a Publix employee organized a group to lift the car off the man trapped underneath, Tsistinas said he ran to the store's pharmacy for protective gloves and gauze to help tend to the wounded.

"I didn't think Publix would mind," he said. "I felt like I was running in slow motion."

The Florida Highway Patrol charged Thelma Wagenhoffer with careless driving. She was not injured in the crash.

FHP Cpl. Randall Naugher said he examined Wagenhoffer's car and determined that the wreck wasn't caused by any mechanical failure.

"We don't know what happened," he said.

Flagler County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debra Johnson said Saturday that Wagenhoffer was pulling up to a stop sign in front of the store when she apparently hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes.

Alexander Wagenhoffer, who answered the phone at the woman's Palm Coast residence Saturday night, said Thelma Wagenhoffer told him that she doesn't know what caused her to crash into the Publix supermarket.

"She's trying to put the pieces together," he told the newspaper.

Donna Switzer just learned Lupo Hernandez, one of the accident victims who remains in stable condition at the hospital, is her neighbor.

"That lady shouldn't have been driving, and you've got to feel bad for her. You know she feels bad," said Switzer.

Wagenhoffer's neighbors said she normally drives well, and while she didn't answer the door for reporters, they said she's talked to them.

"Yeah, it's bad.  It's a bad deal.  It's really got her tore up," said one man who did not want to be identified.  "She never said a word. I don't think she knows what happened to tell you the truth. I think she just had a bad experience, bad accident, bad day."

Wagenhoffer has a mandatory court appearance because of the severity of the injuries in the crash.

Earlier this month, a sputtering small plane crashed through the roof into the meat department of a Publix in DeLand, injuring five people.

Publix employees' reactions in both crashes, rushing to help the victims, showed their "mental toughness," said Dwaine Stevens, a spokesman for the Florida-based supermarket chain

"Our associates continue to raise the bar," he said. "We're really proud of them."

Palm Coast is north of Daytona Beach.

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