VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Just after 10 a.m. Thursday morning, a black Ford truck pulling a trailer, driven by 45 year-old Michael Pannell, slammed into the front of the McDonalds on South Patterson Street.
It came within inches of hitting Erica Lamb and her friend, who were inside eating breakfast. "My back was turned up against the wall and I heard a loud screeching noise so I turned around," Lamb recalled. "I seen the truck, literally, comin' through the glass. It sounded like a bomb went off."
Both she and her friend received minor scrapes from the shattering glass, but were otherwise unhurt. "I was in shock, I couldn't move," said Lamb.
Zicoroy Ford was also inside at the time and he did move. He picked up a chair that had been knocked loose from the crash and busted out the driver's side window to try and help Pannell. "I reached over and put the truck in park and cut it off. He was still shakin', had a little drool comin' out his mouth," explained Ford. "I unfastened his seat belt and tried to get him outta there, but I couldn't get him across the hump of the seat."
All of the leaking fluids and fumes from the truck caused Ford to back out of the truck momentarily before continuing to try to help Pannell. "I came outta there gagin'. At that time, the police, they was already comin'. They reacted pretty fast to the whole situation," Ford said.
Pannell was put on a stretcher and rushed to South Georgia Medical Center, but was conscious and alert and able to talk to the emergency personnel.
Despite his effort, Ford said he doesn't want to be called a hero."No, I'm not a hero," Ford emphasized. "I'm just a guy who didn't want to see a man die."
Once police learn what type of medical issue Pannell had, they will decide whether to file charges. The McDonald's will be shut down until repairs can be made, although the building did not suffer any major structural damage as a result of the crash.