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LANCASTER, S.C. -- The Buy-Rite Discount Beverage and Cigarettes store located here had an unexpected arrival on Wednesday afternoon, when a slow moving train derailed and crashed its way into the rear of the convenience store, according to a report in The Herald.
The crash was the result of a train engineer that did not heed a stop signal when he was backing up on an offloading track, the local rail company president told the paper. Three train cars rolled through a dirt barrier and struck the store, which is located 30 feet from where the track ends. The president of the Lancaster & Chester Railway, Stephen Gedney, stated that an improper maneuver appears to have caused the crash, but additional discussions are needed to determine the exact cause.
Thanks to the store owner Johnny Martin, the three other men inside the store escaped without serious injuries. One customer, Dewey Honeycutt, appeared to go into shock moments after the incident and was pulled from the store by Martin, who feared the building was going to collapse, the report stated. Honeycutt was flown to Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, S.C.
"We're just lucky we got out alive," customer Tony Preslar told The Herald. "The whole ceiling was coming down. Then, the store started to shake and shimmer."
Officials believe the train was traveling at one mile per hour, but generated enough force to lodge it eight feet inside the store, leaving the building canted forward off of its foundation.
"It felt like an earthquake," Bruce Hilton, who was inside to buy a lottery ticket, told the paper. "Everything just flew off the walls. Johnny told us to get out."
Wednesday night, a railroad crew brought in a locomotive and a crane to dislodge the car from the store, the report stated. "We caused the accident," said Gedney. "We'll be rebuilding [the store] for him is that's what he wants to do."
Gedney told the paper that the train company may stop using the offloading track due to its distance from the store.