ST. GEORGE — An elderly driver reportedly hit the gas instead of the brakes, taking out landscaping and flipping her car in a shopping center parking lot on South River Road on Wednesday.

Map shows the trek of the vehicle involved in the incident in front of PetSmart on Wednesday morning, St. George, Utah, Nov. 1, 2023 | Map courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

St. George Police Officer Tiffany Mitchell said the 81-year-old woman driving a blue Hyundai was pulling into a parking spot and the sudden acceleration sent the vehicle up on the landscaping strip.

This caused her to turn the wheel to the right as the Hyundai 4-door hatchback hit a handicap parking sign, knocking her back into a boulder in the landscaping area and through a bush.

Mitchell said the vehicle continued onto a second landscaping plot, traveled along the curb, knocked over a small palm tree and hit a large boulder. As a result of the impact with the boulder, the vehicle flipped and came to rest on its top in the travel lane in front of PetSmart and Ulta Beauty.

The driver and her husband, who was in the passenger seat, sustained minor injuries. They were examined on scene and released, Mitchell said.

The damage to the landscape, however, was prevalent as broken branches, broken glass and dislodged boulders were visible. One large boulder was knocked out of the landscape area into a parking space.

The incident occurred just before 11 a.m. and was cleared within 30 minutes at the shopping center located at 15 S. River Road.

A driver flipped her Hyundai in front of PetSmart on Wednesday morning, St. George, Utah, Nov. 1, 2023 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

Mitchell said this was an unfortunate mistake and is still being investigated. No citation has been issued. However, due to the location of the incident scene, they can only do one type of traffic citation, if issued.

“It is in a private parking lot, so if there is anything (citation), it will be a negligent collision,” she said.

PetSmart Manager Matt Funk said he did not witness the incident but saw the aftermath and knew the driver and her husband. He said it was something crazy but was glad that both involved were OK.

St. George Police, St. George Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance responded to the scene.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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