99-year-old veteran recalls moment when car crashed into Franklin County salon, stopping inches from his seat

Roanoke Valley News

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Back in late July, a 99-year-old veteran walked away unharmed after a car slammed into a Franklin County salon, stopping inches away from where he was getting his monthly pedicure. Six weeks later, he told WFXR News there must have been something that wanted to keep him alive that day.

On July 28, James Dinwiddie was getting a pedicure in the front room of Tai Bella Salon in Hardy.

Many people were startled when a car came crashing through the front of the shop, making a loud noise and shaking the building.

Dinwiddie says he was scared but remained calm. His pedicurist, on the other hand, was terrified.

Dinwiddie tried to calm her down, saying, “I kept telling her, ‘you’re okay, you’re okay, you haven’t been hurt.'”

Soon, he realized he was stuck in the pedicure chair and the vehicle was just inches away from his armrest.

“I was sitting next to the driver’s seat and the engine was out in front of me,” said Dinwiddie. “I thought ‘my God, how did that happen?'”

After consoling the pedicurist from the pedicure chair, police and emergency crews arrived to pull Dinwiddie out, but he didn’t need much help with that.

“He climbed out of the pedicure chair, he was leaning back with his leg thrown over the car. I’m still in amazement that he climbed out over,” said Tai Bella’s owner, Laurie Mitchell. “The firemen and everybody was like, ‘oh my goodness, he’s climbing over the car!’ He climbed over the car, walked back to the back, and sat down.”

Mitchell was in the back of the salon during the crash, but had been at the storefront just minutes beforehand.

Mitchell suggested Dinwiddie’s composed reaction may have had something to do with his 36 years as an army pilot. He’s a decorated veteran who served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

However, Dinwiddie says his closest call occurred in his hometown near Smith Mountain Lake while getting his monthly pedicure.

“That car came closer to killing me than anything else,” Dinwiddie said while laughing.

The front section of Tai Bella Salon is expected to be up and running again within the next few weeks.

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