Tammy Hunt and her fiancee, Thomas Harford, were in front of a Phenix City gas station late Tuesday night when an SUV slammed into the front of the building, causing significant damage to the glass and facade.
"He pulled up to the front of the store, then floored it," Harford said Wednesday afternoon. "It jumped the curve and the little sidewalk and went all the way into the store."
Harford, sitting on a 5-gallon bucket at the time, was able to push Hunt out of the way, but he was injured when the vehicle came back out of the store.
"He came out of it just as fast as he went in," Harford said.
Randy Edward Smith, 50, of 2011 Third Ave., the driver of the 2000 Range Rover, was arrested at 10:45 p.m. and charged with DUI, according to jail records.
It happened about 10:20 p.m. at the Bizzy Bee Marathon gas station, 2220 Fourth Ave.
The crash also sent Harford to a Phenix City hospital, where he said he was treated for a shoulder injury and released.
Harford said he was surprised when the vehicle came roaring backward out of the store.
"When he came out, he had cases of soda pop and bottle water all over the hood of that SUV," Harford said.
Hunt, a cashier at the store, said she was not seriously injured, but she was "really shook up." She was outside at the time taking a smoking break. There was one customer and another cashier inside the store, Hunt said.
"It was a nightmare," she said. "It happened just that fast. I was so scared I went running beside the building."
As the SUV exited the store, it went through the parking lot and across Fourth Avenue before coming to rest in a yard, Harford said.
As the vehicle began to move back toward the store, Harford sought refuge behind a concrete pillar near the gas pumps.
"He finally just pulled into a parking space, got out and looked around like nothing happened," Harford said.
"He was claiming his brakes malfunctioned," Sgt. Jeff Freeman said of the driver.