Video shows van plowing through jewelry store

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. - Security cameras captured a van crashing through an Athens jewelry store, showing a frightening scene as the vehicle plowed through cases and struck customers.

Chandlee Jewelers in Oconee County has reopened, a week after the runaway van smashed through the front window, injuring a customer and destroying several showcases.

"It kept coming," store owner Bryan Chandlee-Exum said.  "I started screaming, ‘Stop, stop, please stop.  Somebody stop this woman.’"

Several security cameras inside the store captured the crash from multiple angles, including one showing the unnamed customer hit from behind and tossed 15 feet through the store. 

Chandlee-Exum said the woman suffered a head injury that required 12 surgical staples, but she should eventually recover.

Chandlee-Exum's daughter, Chandlee Epps, was sitting right by the window when the crash happened.

The violent impact knocked several jewelry showcases onto her lap and gave her a black eye.  She's recovered everything except her shattered nerves.

"A multitude of emotions that I still feel today at night when I go to sleep, when I hear a loud noise," said Epps.  "It's still with me and probably will be for some time."

The driver, who escaped injury, told investigators something had rolled underneath her brake pedal preventing her from stopping the van.  Because the crash happened on private property, she was not charged.

Chandlee-Exum said they decided to post the multiple videos on YouTube to show others how quickly life can change.  She is not surprised the videos have gone viral.

"We like to see 'oops' moments," said Chandlee-Exum.  "It's a little bit troubling that we like that, but we're rubberneckers."

She also said she harbors no ill feelings toward the driver, but still feels anger over the situation.

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