published Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Semi plows into strip mall; driver dies

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — The driver of a semitrailer was found dead in the wreckage of a strip mall after his truck slammed into a restaurant and hair salon Wednesday morning in suburban Atlanta.

No one in the area was injured.

The crash happened around 10:15 a.m. Wednesday on Scenic Highway in an unincorporated area of Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County police Cpl. Edwin Ritter said. The driver was identified Wednesday evening as Donald Samples, 66, of Snellville.

Samples was heading north on the highway near Essex Drive when his truck crossed the southbound lanes and entered the strip mall’s parking lot, Ritter said.

The truck came to a stop after crashing through the window of O’Wings in Essex Plaza. The crash occurred about 45 minutes before the restaurant was scheduled to open for lunch, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The truck narrowly avoided the nearby Global Karate Studio, which was holding a summer camp with 22 children at the time, WSB-TV reported.

A karate instructor said he ran to try and help the driver, but it was too late. He then returned to the karate studio to evacuate the children.

Police say they’re not sure what caused the accident.

Samples died as a result of injuries he suffered in the crash, but Ritter said it was unclear whether the man had suffered a medical condition before the crash. Drugs and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the crash, Ritter said.

Lawrenceville is about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta.

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