NATCHEZ, Miss. — The Malt Shop on the corner of Homochitto Street and Martin Luther King Drive in downtown Natchez is the scene of a second vehicular crash in less than two years.
Just after 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, a Ford sedan driven by Amanda Davis, 21, was slowing to the red light at the intersection of Martin Luther King, planning to make a left turn onto Homochitto, when a Dodge SUV, driven by Estella Drew, 77, of Natchez, rear ended the vehicle.
Witnesses at the scene say Drew was running late to attend church services. Natchez Police officers at the scene stated an eyewitness saw Drew run a red light at the intersection of Franklin Street and Martin Luther King Drive, four blocks away from the crash scene.
Upon the collision, the Ford sedan was pushed to the right, causing it to crash into the garage of Joan McLemore on the corner of MLK and Homochitto. McLemore was not at home at the time of the crash.
Drew continued forward at a high rate of speed through the intersection and crashed directly into the front of The Malt Shop, as four employees were working inside. Two employees were working in the front of the shop, one was in the freezer and another at the back of the restaurant doing prep work.
Amy Clark, 29, of Vidalia, manager of The Malt Shop, was in the freezer at the back of the drive-in when the SUV crashed into the shop. "All I could hear was something loud, and I thought something fell outside the freezer," she said. As she opened the door, she went into shock as she saw the accident, and began getting her co-workers away from the scene and help them escape.
All four employees at The Malt Shop at the time of the accident were not seriously injured, but one who is currently pregnant was taken to the hospital for obeservation. Davis, stating she was in pain, along with her passenger, Kiara Grinnell, 23, were taken to the hospital. Driver's and passenger airbags were delpoyed in the Ford sedan. Their conditions are not available at this time.
Drew, the driver of the SUV, walked away from the accident unharmed. It is unknown at this time if she was cited by the Natchez Police Department. She left the scene of the accident approximately 3:30 p.m. under the guidance of friends and family.
This is the second time The Malt Shop has been the scene of a major accident within the last two years. In a late night crash in July 2011, the front of the building, along with its famous picinic table, where locals and visitors to Natchez have carved their names into the wood, was severely damaged. The restaurant, owned by Gloria Neames, was able to reopen the next day and completely rebuild the shop in less than a month. One board from the origninal table survived the first crash and was placed on the remodeled picnic table.
Two wrecker trucks from two companies removed the vehicles from both The Malt Shop and McLemore's house approximately 3:15 p.m. Sunday's crash completely destroyed the new table and the entire front service area of The Malt Shop. Clark said they will begin cleaning up once the SUV is removed and an insurance insepctor assesses the damage.
"Ms. Gloria did everything for her employees when the first crashed happened," Clark said. "We're not sure how we're going to make it out of this one, but we will all stick together."