Repairs to plaza rammed by tractor-trailer may take days

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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Cleanup is underway at a Lawrenceville shopping center after an out-of-control tractor-trailer crashed through the building.

Wednesday's crash killed the driver of the truck, Donald Samples, 66, of Snellville.

The contractor repairing the building told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh he's not sure how long the job will take.

"This is definitely the worst I've seen," contractor Nick Nichols told Kavanaugh.

Nichols said his team needs to clear away debris to see exactly what the truck left behind.

Investigators said on Wednesday they believe the driver suffered a medical emergency before losing control and slamming into the businesses on Scenic Highway.

The Gwinnett County medical examiner told Kavanaugh Thursday that an autopsy showed no evidence of a major medical event that would have led to the accident.

Police said Samples died on impact. Family said Samples had been driving trucks for Werner Enterprises for eight years.

"An hour later, this place could have been full of people eating lunch or getting their hair cut," Nichols told Kavanaugh.

Fortunately, both businesses were closed.

Mere feet separated 22 children in a karate summer camp from disaster. There were no other injuries, but the crash has forced all the businesses in the plaza to close temporarily. The truck took out support beams in the businesses.

"It's definitely going to be a challenging repair. But the rest of the building is fine. They're not like dominoes; they're not all going to fall at one time," Nichols said.

Nichols said once the debris is gone, he'll bring equipment to get up into the ceiling to determine the exact repairs.

He said it will take several days before anything in the plaza is back to normal.



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