Photo by David Grace.
BLOUNTVILLE — Jarrett Richardson is used to traffic crashes outside of his home decor shop along Highway 394 in Blountville.
So Thursday afternoon's incident didn't initially raise much excitement: He heard tires squeal, a bang, then prepared to call in another collision.
"I reached for my phone to call 911, and the next thing I know there's a car inside my store," said Richardson from outside The Hope Chest, now sans one wall.
"It narrowly missed me by approximately two inches — because the wall where it hit is where my desk and chair is."
Serious injury was reportedly avoided in the incident, which occurred shortly before 4 p.m. According to Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. Christy Osborne, an SUV attempted to head east on Island Road, but failed to yield to a Sullivan County Sheriff's Office transport vehicle.
The SCSO van, which was traveling north on 394 to take an inmate to court in Kingsport, struck the GMC Acadia, sending it ricocheting into Richardson's store. The SUV came to rest with its front end inside the business that sits at the intersection, punching a hole through the wall.
"It's pretty much destroyed," said Richardson. "Most of our candles are broken, all of our tart warmers are broken, glass shelves are in chunks, metal shelves are bent — and the entire wall is now missing."
Lt. Osborne identified the driver of the GMC as Linda Stoots of Sugar Grove, Va. Both she and her passenger, William Stoots, were transported to Bristol Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. Osborne said Linda Stoots will be charged with failure to yield the right of way.
Richardson says his business partner, Steven Leheny, was also taken to the hospital for possible injuries to his back and leg.
"He was standing beside the desk," Richardson said of Leheny's location when the SUV crashed through the wall. "It actually hit him and threw him across the room."
Richardson added that he'd like to see the speed limit reduced on Highway 394 or a flashing caution light placed at the intersection, as "it would be warranted and help problems like this."
Both the driver of the SCSO transport van and the prisoner were uninjured. The inmate told police that he wished to continue on to his court appearance in another vehicle.
Times News photographer David Grace and staff writer Rain Smith contributed to this story.