By Rebecca Croomes
Athens Police Department reported a woman driving a white 2004 Mercedes sedan was attempting to park on Marion Street Thursday morning when she somehow ended up in drive and the car moved forward onto the sidewalk.
The vehicle initially hit one of the four widow displays of the Center for Lifelong Learning at the corner of Marion and Washington streets, breaking the glass.
Witnesses said the concrete foundation under the glass apparently prevented the car from breaking through the window. Instead, the car skidded along the sidewalk, broke another window and concrete planter, and ripped up two benches anchored into cement.
Police Chief Floyd Johnson said no injuries were reported.
Pat Madsen was sitting with a coworker close to the window at the Center when she said she noticed the car pull in to the space, but not stop.
“I just happened to look up and saw the car heading towards the window, and we both jumped up and ran away from the window,” Madsen said. “We thought she was coming right through the window. I didn’t even realize I had stood up and was running in the other direction.”
Madsen said once they were in the backroom they could hear the car hit other objects as it went down the sidewalk. Once they were sure it had stopped they ran out to help the driver.
“It was pretty loud,” she said. “My boss (in the back) thought I had fallen in the window or something, she wasn’t sure what happened.”
No one was on the sidewalk at the time of the accident.
The Center for Lifelong Learning is owned by Athens State University and is hosting a display of original bronze sculptures in its center window display, the only window not broken. Staff planned to remove the artworks anyway until further notice.
Madsen and her co-workers quickly cleared the debris from the sidewalk, but also from the inside of the store, where glass scattered across the floor. She said a curtain prevented anyone from being seriously cut.