NEW DETAILS: 70-year-old woman killed after SUV crashes through Wendy’s restaurant

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Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 8:55 PM EST
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BISHOPVILLE, S.C. (WIS) - One woman is dead, and six others were injured while eating at a local Wendy’s.

70-year-old Janie Kirkland was eating dinner with her husband when a white SUV crashed through the dining room of the restaurant.

It happened along Sumter Highway at the Wendy’s and Pilot gas station located right off I-20. The Lee County Sheriff tells WIS the highway sees a lot of traffic, especially during the holidays.

WIS spoke with Janie Kirkland’s niece, Glenda Dixon. She told WIS the family did not want to go on camera because they are still grieving such a great loss. However, she did tell us off camera that her aunt was a loving woman and will be missed.

RELATED STORY: Elderly man crashes car into Bishopville Wendy’s, multiple injured

Janie Kirkland leaves behind 6 children, 13 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. Glenda Dixon, one of Kirkland’s nieces, also says the 70-year-old and her husband adopted two young boys seven years ago. Kirkland was killed Tuesday night while stopping at a Wendy’s restaurant to grab a bite to eat with her husband. Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simon says the two were on their way back from Sumter after making holiday donations.

“We received a call yesterday about 12:30 in reference to a vehicle that had rammed inside of the Wendy’s on 1340 Sumter Highway,” said Sheriff Simon.

Pictures from South Carolina Highway Patrol show the aftermath of a white SUV crashing through the front of the restaurant making its way through the dining room and almost going through the front counter.

Sheriff Simon says, “When first responders and officers got there, they saw the truck was inside of the restaurant and a lady was actually under the truck.”

Kirkland was taken to a nearby hospital where she later died. This tragedy unfolded right in front of her husband.

“He was refilling his drink. I’m not sure if he was refilling it for his wife or himself but he was at the drink dispenser. He says he heard a loud noise, and something hit him and he looked back and saw that the vehicle had entered the establishment and saw his wife was actually hit by the vehicle,” the sheriff said.

Yellow caution tape now surrounds the store. People in the area say this is something no one should experience so close to the holidays.

“Losing somebody at that time, in that way, in that place, so unexpectedly is just not happy and I just feel sadness for both of them,” said traveler, Lee Ragsdale.

WIS also learned the driver of that vehicle is an 86-year-old man. The sheriff says highway patrol will determine whether or not that driver will face any charges. It’s still unclear whether he was suffering from a medical emergency, but the sheriff did say the driver stated that he accidentally hit the gas instead of the brakes.

The pilot company released this statement Wednesday:

“Our hearts go out to all those affected, including our valued team members and guests, by the incident that occurred at our Pilot travel center in Bishopville, South Carolina. We are providing our team members with resources to support them through this difficult event.

We appreciate the quick response of local authorities and emergency responders and are cooperating with them to investigate the incident. As this is an ongoing investigation, please direct any further inquiries to the local authorities.”

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