Drunken driving suspect accused of crashing SUV into lighting store

March 22, 2013 4:07:20 PM PDT
Authorities say a suspect drunken driver shattered a bright business in northwest Harris County.

The driver plowed through the showroom of the Lighting Gallery, leaving behind little more than broken glass. He had no idea his getaway was caught on camera.

Had anyone been inside the store on FM 1960 at Champions Drive around 7:20pm Thursday, they likely would've been plowed into along with everything else.

Cleanup is still underway but there is thousands of dollars in damage and a lot of people thankful they weren't hurt either.

The sign in front of the lightning gallery is an attention-getter, but words don't do justice to the damage. A showroom full of very expensive chandeliers became ground zero for a speeding truck Thursday night. And the driver was caught on video as he was trying to back up.

Jason Vaughan ran from a neighboring business and pointed his cell phone camera.

"The first time he backed up, he hit drive again and then I said oh no, this guy's trying to get away so I pulled out my phone and started videoing," Vaughan said.

The Lighting Gallery, a family business, has been a fixture here on FM 1960 for decades. On Friday, the family is still stunned by the damage.

"Impact of around 60 to 70 miles an hour -- that's why a brick column doesn't stop him and he came this far into the showroom," Lighting Gallery manager Ann Morgan said.

The relief is that the store had just closed for the evening Thursday.

"Basically the fact nobody got hurt, that's what gave me the tremors," Lighting Gallery owner Annette Schmidt said.

The driver made it a couple of blocks down FM 1960 by driving on rims. Harold Clayton, 59, was caught by sheriff's deputies at the apartment complex where he lives. He's been charged with DWI and failure to stop and give information.

The lighting store will be closed until all the broken glass, shattered crystal and even car parts are removed from the showroom floor.

It's a place where nearly everything is breakable, and now a lot of it is.

The store will remain closed for about a week, when some of the inventory can be replaced and the structural damage can be repaired.
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