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Fugitive crashes car into business

More than $5,000 of damage was done on Friday to the T-Shirt Shop and Old South Furniture and Antiques building, and $4,000 of damage done to Bill Keathley’s Ford Ranger, owner by Old South Furniture and Antiques, after the building and truck were struck by a Pennsylvania fugitive who passed out while driving West bound on U.S. Highway 70. (Photo by Allison Goodman)Buy Photo
More than $5,000 of damage was done on Friday to the T-Shirt Shop and Old South Furniture and Antiques building, and $4,000 of damage done to Bill Keathley’s Ford Ranger, owner by Old South Furniture and Antiques, after the building and truck were struck by a Pennsylvania fugitive who passed out while driving West bound on U.S. Highway 70. (Photo by Allison Goodman)

A Pennsylvania fugitive left behind a path of destruction on Friday after passing out behind the wheel of his car.

Around 3:09 p.m. on Friday, Carlisle Police officer Ronnie Long arrived on scene to a single vehicle accident. Long said it appeared that the drive, identified as Eric Kurtz, 38, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was traveling West bound on U.S. Highway 70 in his 1999 red Saturn when he passed out from unknown reasons.

Long said Kurtz then appeared to have accelerated the vehicle, crossing the East bound side of the highway, continuing heading West. After crossing the east bound lane, Long said Kurtz then drove off the roadway, first hitting a power pole, the striking a parked Ford Ranger and then driving into the side of the the T-shirt Shop and Old South Furniture and Antiques store front, before coming to a stop.

According to Long, Kurtz said he is a diabetic and must have passed out. Long said Kurtz could not recall anything that happened before the airbag in his vehicle deployed.

Old South owner Bill Keathley said he was in the store reading a computer printer manual at the time the accident occurred. Keathley said his initial reaction was the same reaction he had on May 2, 2008 when an EF1 tornado left its own path of destruction throughout the town.

“First thing that crossed my mind was when I was sitting here last time the tornado came through,” Keathley said. “But then I saw the glass.”

Keathley said once he realized what had happened, he then rushed out to check on the driver. He said although he found the driver laying across the vehicle, with his upper body in the passenger seat, Kurtz did climb out of the vehicle on his own. Keathley said Kurtz also refused to be transported to the hospital.

After refusing his right to be transported by ambulance to the hospital, Kurtz was taken into custody. According to Long, Kurtz is currently on parole and had numerous warrants out for his arrest. He is being held at the Lonoke County Detention Center until he can be transported back to Pennsylvania.

Long said Kurtz was cited for no insurance and careless, prohibited driving.

Kurtz’ reign of terror left an estimated $9,000 in damages to the building and Keathley’s Ford Ranger, plus the additional cost of replacing the power pole. Keathley said although there was some items broken in the store, not much merchandise was damaged.

Keathley said on Monday, despite damage to the building, the T-Shirt Shop and Old South Furniture and Antiques, located at 109 E. Park Street will remain open. He said he has been assured by the contractor that the damages to the building can be repaired without closing the store down.

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