Crash Destroys Fort Smith Landmark

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- A driver was injured and a landmark demolished after a crash around noontime Thursday (Aug. 24), according to Fort Smith police.

Police on scene tell 5NEWS it is possible the driver may have fallen asleep or passed out behind the wheel.

An eyewitness on scene told police they saw the driver slowly veer off the road before crashing.

The driver's car plowed through the carriage that sat outside Through the Years Antique Mall on Rogers Avenue between 21st and 22nd streets.

Police said they then hit a light pole, which caused their car to spin.

The antique that was destroyed during the crash is one that people in the area call a landmark.

"It was an antique medical carriage that doctors drove to do house calls," Terri Freeny, owner of Through The Years Antique Mall said. "We could tell people when they would call to ask for directions to the store. We would say it's by Northside, you'll see the carriage out front."

Those working at area businesses said they used the antique for the same reason.

"I think it was a very important little landmark for the antique malls and for me," Michele Thompson, Leland's Beauty Salon said. "That's how I told people where I worked; the little buggy on the corner."

"It was just a neat thing and we would see families come and stand in front of it and take pictures," Freeny said.

The carriage may not be in pieces, but the owner of the shop said she hopes one day she can replace the antique.

"I'm hoping that we can find someone who can build us one that looks like it," Freeny said. "I'm hoping to have a replica made."

A leftover piece with the official tag from the carriage will also be something those at the shop will always cherish.

"This is the official manufacturer's tag," Freeny said. "I'm just going to try to use that to create a shadowbox with pictures of it to hang in the store. It's special, it's irreplaceable."

Freeny asked police to leave the debris of the carriage so she can take those materials to make a piece of memorabilia for the shop.

The driver was injured and hospitalized. Police on scene said their injuries could have been worse. Because they believe the driver was unconscious, their muscles were loose instead of tense; lowering the risk of severe injury.