Business owner thankful she wasn’t at work when car crashed into her office

Published 1:50 am Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ivy Burt and Kimberly Cooper both feel blessed.

The women have not met but when Cooper’s car crashed into Burt’s business Tuesday night, they could have. And the results may have been fatal.

Burt, who owns Precision Mortgage at 217 South Second St., planned to work late Tuesday because the recent storms and power outages had her behind on some loan paperwork. She would have been sitting in her desk when Cooper’s car sailed into the side wall of the remodeled wood-frame house that serves as Burt’s offices.

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“Where my desk is, the front of that automobile crushed it,” Burt said.

Cooper, 42, of Brookhaven, was released early Wednesday from Southwest Regional Medical Center with a few head injuries, but she is able to move around, she said.

Brookhaven Fire Chief Tony Weeks said it appeared Cooper, who was traveling alone, was driving south on South Second Street shortly before 8 p.m. and jumped the curb of the Lincoln County Youth Court parking lot beside the business and crashed through the side wall, lodging her car in the middle of the office.

Brookhaven Police Chief Bobby Bell confirmed that. “She was headed south on South Second Street and we believe she had a medical problem and drove into the building,” he said. “We’re lucky that she didn’t hit a light pole and God was with her.”

Bell did not expect charges to be filed.

Cooper said she left her brother’s house and planned to take her nightly medication when she got home.

She said she passed out driving and woke up after her car ran into the building.

She called 911 and waited “but I prayed the whole time,” Cooper said.

Cooper’s daughter, Akierrea Cooper, left classes at University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg Tuesday night after she heard the news.

“My aunt called me and told me what happened,”  she said. “ I dropped everything I was doing and rushed to see her [at the hospital] in McComb.”

She said firefighters used a hydraulic rescue device to cut into the car, which was wedged between debris, and her mother crawled out the back.

Cooper said she had faith that everything was going to be OK, and being back home from the hospital shows how God has favored her life.

“I prayed and I prayed because I know how to pray and I go to church every Sunday,” Cooper said.

Weeks said the car ran over a gas meter outside the building “and the car went on up into the house.”

He said firefighters were able to get the gas line cut off and ventilated the building.

Burt could still smell the gas when she arrived to see her office in shambles.

“When I first saw it, I was numb,” she said. “It was all so surreal. It was like a nightmare.”

Then she saw her desk, or what was left of it. It was wedged between the front of Cooper’s car and the wall, which was bulging from the pressure.

Bricks, debris, broken furniture and papers were scattered over the floor of both rooms.

“It was so hard to look at that and think what if,” she said. “If I had been there I would have been under that pile of rubble and under that shattered desk.”

She said her pastor, Rev. Larry Jointer, swapped Bible study at St. James M.B. Church from Wednesday to Tuesday. “Had it not been for going to Bible class last night, I probably would have been in my office,” she said Wednesday. “This is another blessing. So often we thank the good Lord for grace and mercy. This is just another example of his saving grace. It’s one example of how he shows up and shows out.”

Burt will be temporarily relocating her business inside the First Street Business Center, at 230 South First St. across from the front of the Lincoln County Government Complex. “By the first of the week we’ll be up and rolling,” she said.

An insurance adjuster is expected to survey the damage today, so she’ll know whether they’ll need to tear down the building and start over.

Her phone lines are down, so Burt is asking her customers to contact her through her cell phone with questions or concerns.

The number is 601-757-0022.