MONTICELLO, Ind. (WISH) - A Hoosier from Indianapolis happened to be in the right place at the right time when a woman lost control of her SUV in a Walmart parking lot .
It was Christmas Eve. Indianapolis resident Robert Turner was in Monticello visiting family when he discovered he needed to make a last minute trip to Walmart.
"My mother-in-law's crockpot broke," Turner said, "and I thought, ‘That's a pretty easy gift to get,, pop in Walmart and get a crockpot real quick.'"
Little did he know this trip to Walmart would be like none he'd ever had before. He watched in horror as a Ford Explorer lurched backward moments after pulling into a parking spot at the Monticello Walmart. The speeding SUV damaged several cars and appears to have plowed through a group of shoppers.
"As soon as I look over there, the vehicle plows into another car," Turner told 24-Hour News 8. "People start yelling, 'Go forward! Go forward!'"
A crowd of shoppers urged the motorist to go forward because they believed someone was pinned behind the SUV. But when the driver, 64-year old Ruth Ames, went forward again, the SUV lurched through the parking lot out of control, damaging even more vehicles.
"The tires start spinning," Turner recalled. "You can hear the transmission cranking into drive, and it shoots off like a bullet. [The SUV] starts hitting other cars."
That's when Turner jumped into action.
"I just went chasing after it," he said. "Thank God nobody died from it. Anyway, she hits three other cars and finally comes to a stop. Everybody is running away."
But he didn't run away. Instead, Turner ran toward the accident. Walmart's security camera video captured him jumping on the roof of damaged cars to get to the driver of the SUV. Even after a line of vehicles blocked the path of the Explorer, the wheels continued to spin, creating a cloud of thick smoke.
"When I finally open the door to get her out," Turner recalled, "there was more smoke. I didn't know if it was smoke from the airbags or the tires. I didn't know if the engine was smoking. Pretty crazy."
He grabbed the keys and saved the day. And this is one Walmart trip the 31-year old father of two will not soon forget.
Ames told police she doesn't know why her vehicle suddenly lurched backward then forward. But when Turner grabbed the keys, he noticed that Ames had a cast on her right foot. Police have not yet determined whether that was involved in the accident.
Three people suffered only minor injuries, and 12 vehicles were damaged. But statistics indicate this accident could have been much worse. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 20 percent of vehicle accidents happen in parking lots.
State Farm Insurance has some advice during this post holiday shopping season.
When you're driving in parking lots - drive very slowly. That buys you time to react.
Expect pedestrians. Remember a busy shopper may be lugging bags and trying to wrangle a wayward child.
Distance yourself. Parking far away decreases your chances of door dings and other damage to your vehicle.
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