Three stores were closed and four people taken to Ocean Springs Hospital midday today when a car that had been parked in the parking lot of Cato women's wear accelerated and drove into the store, through the front of Cato and into the Shoe Dept store next door.
The injured included the manager of Cato, Denise Demouey, who was standing inside the store, near the front window, when the car came through.
Also injured was Sara Franklin, whom police list as a customer of Cato; the driver of the car, Bertha McClain, 64, of Vancleave and her son Leo McClain, 39, a passenger in the car. An Ocean Springs police spokesman said none of the injuries were life-threatening, but that Demouey was pushed or dragged by the car.
Clothing, shoe racks and shoe boxes littered the stores and the smell of burning rubber from the car's tires still filled the air an hour after the accident.
Lt. Steve Futral, with Ocean Springs police, said the reason for the accident was still under investigation this afternoon.
He said what they do know is that Bertha McClain intended to back out of the parking lot but went forward instead.
An employee of Cato said she was at the register when she heard a loud noise and saw the front wall of the store coming toward her.
Employees of the Shoe Dept said they ran for safety not knowing what was happening.
They said the engine of the car was still racing after it came to rest in the Shoe Dept display room.
The neighboring GameStop store also was closed Thursday afternoon until someone could determine how sound the building was after the wreck.
All three stores are in a strip mall at 3907 Bienville Boulevard in the outlying property between Walmart and U.S. 90.