Five people were rushed to the hospital Thursday after an SUV crashed through the doors of a Richland Township store, scattering customers and shattering glass and merchandise, authorities said.
Four ambulances, three fire trucks and police cruisers arrived at Richland Town Centre within minutes of the 1:16 p.m. crash at the Dollar Tree next to Walmart.
“We know somebody was trapped underneath the vehicle,” police Sgt. John Herdman said while standing outside on pavement littered with sunglasses from a crushed display.
Authorities say a 78-year-old woman driving a GMC Envoy pulled into a parking space and got hung up on a curb, Herdman said.
“She tried backing off the curb and apparently hit the accelerator instead of the brake,” he said.
“She ended up hitting a car, then drove through the front doors of the Dollar Tree.”
The driver crashed through the doors in reverse. Customers fled from the vehicle, which came to a halt about 15 feet inside the building.
The driver was uninjured, but five others were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to severe, Herdman said.
Names, ages and individual conditions of the victims were not released by authorities as of late Thursday. “I’m i n total shock,” said Diane Thomas of Moxham, who exited the store moments before the crash. “I literally had just walked away from the register.”
Her fiance, Jabari Robinson, was waiting in a car outside with two children ages 2 and 3.
“You could hear the tires screeching,” Robinson said. “She hit this car first and then went straight into the store. The whole time it was backwards.”
A crowd at the busy shopping center gathered outside t he Dollar Tree.
Police worked to move the crowd back, cordoning off the area with yellow tape.
Police photographed the scene, and a flatbed from Moxham Mobil towed the SUV.
General Motors describes the Envoy as a four-door, midsize SUV t hat is equipped with either a six-cylinder or eightcylinder engine. It has a fourspeed automatic transmission that offers either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Production of the Envoy was discontinued in 2009, and it was replaced in the automaker’s lineup by the GMC Acadia.
A few hours after the crash, Richland volunteer firefighters swept up broken glass.
“It was a little hectic,” said Don Gawel, East Hills Ambulance commander.
By early evening the crowd was gone and a blue tarp covered the outside of the building.
Police continue to investigate what caused the crash.