ABC News Blogs

Ga. Toddler Tossed as Car Smashes Jewelry Store

ABC News Blogs

A 16-month-old Georgia boy was thrown three feet into the air after a customer at his father's jewelry store plowed her car through the shop's front windows.

The accident happened Saturday as the toddler, Gray Harkleroad, was with his father, Marion, at the family's store, Harkleroad Diamonds & Fine Jewelry, in Savannah.

Surveillance video from inside the family-owned store of 26 years captured the moment Gray, who was born premature at just two pounds, ran into his dad's office. Just seconds later, he was thrown into the air by the car, which had plowed through the store's front entrance and two jewelry showcases before coming to a stop in Harkleroad's office.

"I saw him kind of buckle back and he flew backwards airborne," Harkleroad, who was sitting at his desk at the time and suffered bruises, cuts and numbness from being hit by the flying debris, told ABC News.

Also in the store at the time was Harkleroad's older son Caleb, who came to the rescue of his younger brother.

"By the time I got over my desk and got back to my feet, my 21-year-old son Caleb Harkleroad had already reacted," Harkleroad said. "I keep saying it over and over but basically he is my hero. He got to my baby before I could."

Caleb attributed the fact that he and his family survived the crash to a higher power.

"Thankful to God the angels were here," he said. "Nobody knew who was hurt or what was going on or what happened. It was just chaos."

The driver was identified by authorities as 84-year-old Christina Wands, a customer visiting the store to pick up her watch.

"I pulled into the parking space and thought, 'Gee, great, I have a parking space right up by the door,' and I was going to put the brake on and turn the car off and go in," Wands told ABCNews.com today by phone from her Savannah home. "I was wearing diabetic shoes and what must have happened is I hit the gas instead of the brake."

"I couldn't find the brake," she said. "That's what happened. I did not drive my car into the jewelry store."

Wands was ticketed and charged with reckless driving, according to Officer Gena Bilbo with the Savannah Police. She is scheduled to appear in court in January.

Her car, a 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis, was totaled in the accident and Wand, who herself was not injured, does not plan to drive again.

"I just thank God that I didn't hit him. I never saw him," she said of Gray. "I'm glad no one was hurt."

The jewelry store is still undergoing construction but reopened for business today, Harkleroad told ABCNews.com.

View Comments (958)