February 4, 2014

Car crashes through carpet store, injures worker (Updated 5:45 p.m.)

Rachel Brown

— Lauri Britton said she saw a Ford Taurus accelerate just before it whizzed across a median, crashed through an outside wall into a showroom and landed partially inside the warehouse at the back of the building of Carpet Alley Inc., where the impact knocked an employee out of his chair, injuring him Tuesday afternoon.

The driver, Donald Rogers, 72, of Chatsworth, might have been suffering from a medical emergency when he crashed his car through the store at 3198 N. Dug Gap Road near Connector 3, officials said.

“I was here when it happened. (Owner) Tim (Britton) saw it,” said Lauri Britton, whose family owns the business. “I was in that office in there (next to the showroom), and Tim was sitting at that desk, and saw him coming. He came across the median and accelerated and came through and went out.”

According to 911 officials and a news release from the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy spotted Rogers weaving and running red lights on the South Bypass at about 1:15 p.m. and tried to pull him over.

“The driver refused to stop and continued on the Bypass at a slow speed, weaving and continuously running off the roadway,” the release states. “Another deputy joined in the slow chase and attempted to get in front of the vehicle but was unable to due to the car weaving and crossing the center line.”

When Rogers got to Connector 3, he sped up and drove straight through the front of the showroom, officials said. Employee Miguel Cruz, 38, of Dalton, was knocked out of a chair, the release states.

Britton said Cruz had to be checked out at Hamilton Medical Center and X-rayed but was well enough to talk, and she hopes Rogers is OK, too. She said she’s glad the situation wasn’t worse than it was.

A spokeswoman at Hamilton Medical Center said both Rogers and Cruz were listed in fair condition. Fair condition means the patient’s vital signs are stable and within normal limits and that the patient is conscious but may be uncomfortable.

The sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate.