91-year-old woman hits gas pedal instead of brake, plows into South Euclid store

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jun 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 18:12:19-04

A 91-year-old Cleveland Heights woman rammed her car into a store in South Euclid Wednesday. Police say she accidentally pushed the gas pedal, instead of the brake.

The store staff told News 5 the impact of the crash was so strong, the woman’s car dragged the cashier counter back into the store by almost six feet.

The South Euclid police chief said this accident could be a good lesson for those who have elderly family members.

Chief Kevin Nietert said these types of accidents involving senior drivers happen more often than people think.

He shared his own personal story. He said his wife had 'the talk' with her grandmother, after a series of minor accidents.

“She scraped the side of the car, pulling into the garage, or she backed into the gas pump,” said Chief Nietert.

After several close calls, his wife's family ended up taking her grandmother’s car away from her.

“It was a difficult thing to do, but it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Chief Nietert said most of the time, seniors are reluctant to part ways with their car.

“When the car is pulled away from them, they feel like they're losing their independence,” he said, “When they want to go to the store, they have to rely on somebody else, they can't just freely do these things.”

However, he believes it’s up to the family to make the tough, but responsible decision for their loved ones. He said sometimes, bringing in experts can help.

“Not only did her family work with her, but they got her doctor involved in the decision-making process, and I think that helped,” he said.

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While no one was injured in latest crash in South Euclid, the accident was severe enough, law enforcement will be stepping in.

“I can almost assure you in this case, we will be sending this lady to be retested, and often times they can't pass the test,” said Chief Nietert.

The police chief’s advice for family members is to NOT make decisions, based on their loved one's age, but by their cognitive and physical abilities.

Questions they should ask:

  • Are they mentally alert?
  • Are they in good enough shape to operate a car?

Nietert said do not wait until a major accident happens to you have 'the talk.'

The 'Just a Buck' store was closed Thursday. Crews were still cleaning up the rubble and skid marks on the store's floor.

The gaping hole, where the car crashed into the store, has been boarded up. The 'Just a Buck' spokesperson said the store should be back open for business by Saturday.