Mrs. Mallie Pendergrass went for ride she will not soon forget. On the morning of January 3, her granddaughter, Caretha, parked her Toyota on Main Street in front of a local business. She planned to be only a moment and since it was a cold and rainy morning, she left her car running to keep her grandmother, Mrs. Pendergrass, warm. Little did she or her 87-year-old passenger know what panic and chaos would ensue from the decision.
It's presumed the transmission slipped into reverse and started the car on its backwards journey into the busy intersection of Main and Academy streets. Witnesses and drivers looked on in amazement as the subcompact whipped through the intersection in horseshoe fashion, crossed all four lanes then slamming rear-end first into Susan's Florals located on the opposite side of the street and facing the opposite direction.
A pedestrian who witnessed the crash rushed to the car and once inside the parked car applied the emergency brake. He and others would comfort Pendergrass until the arrival of law enforcement and emergency response personnel.
Astonishingly, no one was hurt. Just steps away from the crash, a delivery man was unloading flowers and inside the shop was the owner's husband, Mike Mitchum, who was standing just feet from the impact. "All I heard was bam bam!" said Mitchum. "Then we seen the car but we couldn't get out because the door had jammed." He used a screwdriver to force the door open.
Mrs. Pendergrass was not injured in the motor melee but she was certainly shaken. "I was scared to death," she said. "Lord, I was hollering for somebody to come." At some point during the tempestuous trip, she opened the door and considered jumping but changed her mind at the last second. "I swear to God I was going to get out," she said. "But something tell me to stop." Officer Dean McCrea was happy she didn't. "I'm glad she didn't," said McCrea who has never witnessed anything like that scene in his 22 years in law enforcement. "If she had, that door would have caught her and she could have went under the car."
The impact shattered a window and shifted portions of the structure. The car also crushed an antique Charleston flower cart that owner Susan Mitchum has enjoyed for over 30 years. "I'm just thankful everybody is ok," said Mitchum who was not in the building at the time. Kingstree Fire Chief Tim Duke said it was a miracle no one was hurt. "It could have been disastrous," said Duke. "With so many people around - the people in the shop, inside the building, on the highway - It's a miracle no one was hurt or killed."