UPDATE | Local Walmart accident raises concerns over parking lot crashes

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Sunday, July 29, 2018
(News 12 at 6 O'Clock)

UPDATE | 6:30 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A tragic story out of Columbia County after a 79-year-old woman was hit by a car and killed in a Walmart parking lot Friday afternoon.

Columbia County investigators say 51-year-old Vickie Haas of Hephzibah is charged in the crash. It happened Friday afternoon at the Walmart just off Bobby Jones Expressway when 79-year-old Martha Sweat was hit by a car.

She was transported to a hospital where she later died. News 12 NBC 26 sat down with an Augusta woman who says she was hit by a car in that same parking lot ten years ago who says this is happening far too often.

Kelley Beckworth can point out every scar.

"The tibia and fibula came out right there," Beckworth points out on her leg. "They cut here, a little here and there. I have a titanium rod, four screws here and four screws there."

She can still remember the day ten years ago when a quick trip to the Walmart off Bobby Jones Expressway turned into a nightmare when a driver didn't see her walking out of the store.

"The one time you go to Walmart and you come back with one bag, not a buggy full. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon and I just felt something hit me on the back of my leg," Beckworth says. "I fell over, front tire and back tire went over me. Rolled me completely over."

She says the driver wasn't going too fast, but the damage had already been done. Beckworth says she required surgery and months of physical therapy and still cannot turn her foot in some spots.

Ten years later, that same Walmart is at the center of another accident after 79-year-old Martha Sweat was killed in the parking lot. Beckworth says her heart broke when she heard the news since she still hesitates to go near crosswalks since her accident.

"I'm heartbroken over this. When I went to physical therapy," Beckworth says, "I asked my therapist who gets run over at Walmart? And she said you wouldn't believe it."

A 2016 survey by the National Safety Council found two out of every three drivers may pull into shopping centers distracted and says 20 percent of all accidents happen in parking lots. The survey also found 50,000 people are injured and 500 people are killed in parking lot and garage crashes every year.

Officials say traveling five miles an hour in a parking lot while distracted is just as dangerous as going 50 miles an hour on the interstate. Beckworth says drivers need to be aware at all times to keep things like this from happening.

"I think it was just an accident. But I see it all the time. I will stand there and wait for a million cars to go by before I walk because it happens," Beckworth says. "And everybody's on their nowadays all the time and not paying attention."

She says her scars and this tragedy should serve as a reminder.

"I mean, just slow down and get off your phone," Beckworth says. "It could be a child, it could be this woman. It could be anybody. That lady lost her life and it's awful."

Investigators say Haas will be charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and vehicular homicide.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A 79-year-old woman is dead after being struck by a pickup truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot off Bobby Jones Expressway.

Columbia County Investigators said around 4:30 P.M. on Friday, the victim, 79-year-old Martha Martin Sweat of Augusta, was in a pedestrian crosswalk when she was hit by a pickup truck.

Authorities said Sweat hit her head on the bumper of the truck and then on the pavement. Sweat was transported to AUMC where she was pronounced dead around 9:30 P.M.

The driver, 51-year-old Vickie Haas of Hephzibah, will be charged with failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk and vehicular homicide in the second degree.

News 12 NBC 26 will keep you updated on this story.