Woman Credits Pillar in Saving Her Life From Car That Crashed in Front of Shop

It's unclear why the driver crashed into the mini-mall

A local woman is crediting a pillar for saving the lives of her husband and herself.

On Mother’s Day, Audrey Wilmot and her husband went to Mary’s Donuts in Santee. While they were eating near the window they heard a loud crash.

“It was almost like a bomb had gone off,” she told NBC 7, “and we ran from our seat right in front and we looked up and there was a car spinning around in a circle in that little alcove right there inches away from where we were sitting.”

Just before noon Sunday, a 23-year-old man slammed into the breezeway of a mini-mall in the 8900 block of Carlton Hills Boulevard. The car flipped on its side and the driver was trapped inside. 

Fire officials had to cut out the windshield to extricate the driver, which took about 20 minutes. He was taken to the hospital with major injuries, including his head, neck and back, according to City of Santee Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Stuber.

Wilmot said if it hadn’t been for the pillars in front of the shop she believes she and her husband might have been killed. “We would have never made it because he came through at probably 50 miles an hour. He never braked,” she said.

Management ushered the handful of patrons out the back entrance for their safety. “I never knew I could run so fast,” Wilmot said. “I thought I was going to die, I did. It felt like that.”

She said she hopes the driver is OK and is grateful that no one else was hurt.

“I don’t know what happened, but I know what could have happened if that pillar wasn’t here,” she said. “It will always be the most blessed Mother’s Day I have ever spent in my life because I was not a victim of this accident and I could have been.”

What caused the driver to crash is unclear. Santee Fire Department officials are still at the scene investigating and to assess if the building is still structurally sound.

Contact Us