Driver chokes on coffee, hits building, unhurt

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Knoxville man said his coffee went "down the wrong pipe" as he was driving to work and he crashed through a building.

Owners of Hightop Nursery & Garden Center and JP's Thrift Store said when they showed up for work, their first job was picking up the pieces.

"I got a phone call this morning and I was told that someone had actually ran through our business and I jumped up as quick as I could, got dressed as quick as I could and ran out the door. I thought it was a cruel joke, honestly, but it turns out it wasn't," said Samantha Anderson, who manages the business.

Casper Martelli said his day started out like usually does - he poured coffee into his travel mug, started driving to work and then,

"I guess it just went down the wrong pipe or whatever. I started coughing, then choking and then the next thing I remembered, I woke up and I was inside the building," said Martelli.

Luckily, Martelli wasn't hurt and no one was inside, since the business hadn't opened for the day yet. But the crash caused thousands of dollars worth of damage and knocked the building off its foundation. The building will be torn down and the business will have to move, since the owners rented the space.

"It's going to be hard to start over, and get the same people to know where we're at," said Anderson.

"We'll recuperate from it," said owner James Pratt.

As they pick up what's left and focus on what's next, Martelli will need to replace his SUV. He said he's made a big decision: no more coffee on the way to work.

"I'll probably wait til I get to work from now on, I'll tell you that much!" said Martelli.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office said Martelli won't face any charges.

Business owners said you can still order flowers from them since their nursery is off-site. Call (865) 247-9727.

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