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Dog saves store owner from break-loose SUV

Mary Hinds • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Christmas miracles come in all shapes and sizes, and the people inside The Jewelers of Lebanon experienced their own Thursday morning.  Store owner Shawn Smith credits his newly adopted pooch with making sure he is in shape to enjoy the season.

A local couple had a bit of bumpy ride that morning after the husband was reportedly overcome with a coughing fit while behind the wheel, resulting in his SUV crashing through the window of the jewelry store.

Lebanon police Officer Wayne Howard said Elroy Cantrell, 66, of Lebanon, was driving a Ford SUV in the Westview Plaza parking lot with his wife, Elaine, in the passenger seat, when he had a “coughing spell.”

"He thought he was hitting the brake, but he actually hit the accelerator and went right through the window of the jewelry store," Howard said.

Howard said no one in the vehicle or the store was injured.

While no one was hurt, inside the store, there were close calls all around.

Veronica Mallicoat was helping out at the store assisting a customer to find the perfect ring for his wife's present.

"We were standing right by the window," she said. "We had to leap out of the way."

She said after the SUV came careening through the store and the dust settled, she found the rings the customer had been looking at all the way at the back of the building. Ultimately, the SUV ended up in Smith's office.

But the biggest miracle of all was how Smith came out of the crash without a scratch.

"I had just adopted a dog, Bentley, and was in my office signing the adoption papers," Smith said. "My dog sitter was supposed to pick him up in the afternoon, but he started barking and squawking. I couldn't have that, so I told everybody I had to take Bentley home. I was about a mile away when I got the call about the crash. It was less than two minutes after I left."

If not for Bentley's timely barking spell, he and Smith would have been directly in the path of the vehicle when it crashed into the office. This made Bentley the hero of the hour and left him with one extremely grateful owner.

Smith said Bentley could expect to have a merry Christmas at his new home with all the bones a dog could want.

Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 615-444-3952, ext. 45 or maryhinds@lebanondemocrat.com.

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