UPDATE: Officials say man crashed car into North Augusta apartment complex

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News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Earl Jamahl Spencer (WRDW-TV)
Earl Jamahl Spencer (WRDW-TV)

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- It was a split-second decision that will cause months of repair.

"I guess it went right here and went airborne. It jumped the bushes and went straight into the building," described construction manager Ronnie Thomas.

An unexpected visitor knocked right through the front door of 77-year-old Melba Garrett's home.

"When I was talking to my neighbor, his wife just had left the front door and was walking back into her house when it hit. It sounded so loud she thought it was a bomb," said neighbor Johnny Bostic.

It started as a traffic stop down Georgia Avenue, but it quickly turned into a chase down Buena Vista. The car lost control around a the big curve leading up to the intersection of Buena Vista and Georgetown Drive. You can still see the tire tracks through the grass showing where the car sped off the road before plowing into the house.

"The car went all the way through that unit. Bumped the bedroom wall in that unit and tore his whole living room out," Thomas said.

Three units were damaged. Luckily, the one with the most damage was vacant.

Bostic lives two doors down and even he is seeing some damage.

"It broke the wall and cracked that," he said, pointing to the headboard on his bed. "I guess the impact of it must have hit our headboard because it's split right there."

The sharp curve in the road as Buena Vista meets Georgetown Drive is where the car split from the road. It's a dangerous turn that neighbors say has caused damage before. What's worse this time, the construction manager says the place had just been renovated.

"New front on it, new siding, new columns. Just made a mess," Thomas said.

Now a tarp covers the gaping hole where the car crashed through, but as the cleanup begins, neighbors say it's a memory they are hoping to put in their rear-view mirror.

"It was like something you would see on a television or on a movie. It was just, it was dramatic," Bostic said.

The construction manager says repairs will cost in the range of a $100,000.

News 12 has learned the man driving the car, Earl Spencer, was staying at the Augusta Transitional Center for a forgery conviction. Once he's released from the hospital, he will be turned over to the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Spencer has been charged with DUI, failure to stop for blue lights and siren and driving without a license.

Initial report:

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- A man is accused of crashing his car into an apartment building Tuesday night.

Officers say they pulled over a car for speeding around 10:20 p.m. Once the driver pulled over and the officer began walking toward the car, the officer says the driver sped off.

Another patrol car that was pulling up on the stop tried to chase the car.

Officers noticed a dust cloud down the road and brake lights in the Georgetown Villas Apartments on Georgetown Drive near Riverview Park. They realized the driver had crashed the car into a vacant apartment and clipped an occupied apartment.

The person living inside the apartment, 77-year-old Melba Garrett, was sent to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

The driver has been identified as 25-year-old Earl Jamahl Spencer of Augusta.

Spencer has been charged with DUI, failure to stop for blue lights and siren and driving without a license.

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