Archive for Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dollar Store stop turns costly

November 30, 2006

Generally speaking, this stop at the store will cost more than a dollar.

Herbert Edwin "Teddy" Neale, 77, Overland Park, ran his Jaguar through the front of the Dollar General Store on U.S. Highway 56 at around noon Tuesday. Neither Neale nor customers or employees at the store were injured. Neale, who came to Baldwin City to visit and get his laundry done, was actually going to the pharmacy next door when the accident occurred.

"I'm diabetic. I put my foot down," said Neale. "It just shot forward on me. I couldn't do anything about it. I was in town getting my wash done. I was going to park and go next door to get a shot.

"I've never done something so stupid in my life," he said. "I was scared I was going to hurt someone."

Neale is originally from England, but has been living in the United States for eight years.

"I'm 77 years old and I'm proud of it," said Neale. "I enjoy being an American. I've been an American since last September.

"I've driven all over the world," he said. "I've been driving on the right side of the road for quite awhile."

The incident drew quite a crowd to the parking lot as Baldwin City fire fighters had to work to get Neale out of the car. Once they freed the car door, they were able to help Neale out and paramedics walked him to a nearby ambulance to be checked out. He didn't require treatment.

After that, onlookers watched as the process to remove the Jaguar from next to the front entrance took place.

"Well, it was certainly unusual," said Police Chief Mike McKenna. "A gentleman made an error and preliminary indications are he thought he was hitting the brake, but hit the gas.

"It was very lucky that there were no injuries," said McKenna.

Despite its trip through the front wall, there was only minimal damage to Neale's Jaguar.

"It's not bad," he said. "It must be a tough car."

The wall at Dollar General wasn't so lucky. The store was closed until repairs could be made. How much damage was done is still being determined.

"We opened up at 5 p.m. (Tuesday) night and the wall was back up by 8 p.m.," said Raylene Hildebrand, store manager. "I don't have any idea how much it will cost. Adjusters will be in (Wednesday) to access the damage to the wall and the merchandise."

While a dollar figure for damage wasn't available, Hildebrand did know how lucky it was that no one was hurt.

"No injuries," said Hildebrand. "I'm very happy about that because I was the one standing right there five seconds before it happened. I didn't see it. I was adjusting the sunglasses in front of that window. I stepped over to hold a door open for a customer and that's when it happened.

"It was a very close call," she said.

She said another customer had just left and was walking in front of the car when she saw Neale wasn't going to stop.

"Another customer jumped off the curb or she would have been hit," said Hildebrand.

She said Wednesday was much calmer and she had a plan to keep it that way for herself.

"We're starting off (calmer) today," Hildebrand said. "I'm staying away from the front of the building, that's for sure."

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