A Meridian man’s trailer detached from the truck he was driving Tuesday and crashed into a Ludowici restaurant.
According to Ludowici Police Department Sgt. J.D. Campbell, at around 6:30 p.m., Mariondejuan Sy’ayre Guy was working at his restaurant on Highway 84, Ludowici Little Secret, which serves Caribbean and Southern cuisine, when a trailer loaded with a smoker-grill crashed through the south wall of the building. Debris was scattered as far as 60 feet past the other side of the structure.
“It was like an explosion,” Guy said. “I felt stuff hit me on my foot and in my stomach, and it blew me about 30 feet from where I was standing.”
Guy said that immediately after the crash, a man, who later was identified as Loyd Hutcherson of Meridian, ran into the restaurant.
“He came in yelling, ‘Don’t worry about anything. I already got 15 guys on their way over here to get this cleaned up. Don’t worry about calling the police. We’ll get you fixed up where you won’t even have to close,’” Guy said.
The eatery owner said that at this point, he still was stunned and didn’t realize what had happened.
Soon after the accident, LPD Officer Cameron Arnold arrived with units from the Georgia State Patrol and the Long County Sheriff’s Office. Arnold said he began gathering information and Hutcherson told him that he did not own the smoker and that he only stopped at the scene to assist and make sure no one was hurt. Arnold said Hutcherson told him that he saw a blue Chevrolet Silverado towing the trailer east on Highway 84 when it detached from the truck, crossed the highway and struck the restaurant, where it lodge in a wall.
Arnold questioned Andrea Henley, a waitress who was working at the restaurant at the time. Henley she heard the explosion and fell to the floor behind the cash register. She also said that shortly after the incident, a woman came into the restaurant, said the trailer belonged to her husband and asked if Hutcherson was OK.
Arnold said a third employee at Ludowici Little Secret, Paul Griffin, said Hutcherson told him that the trailer had come unhitched from Hutcherson’s Ford F-250 truck as he was driving past Huddle House and it rolled down the road and crashed into the building.
Soon after investigators discovered the hitch and ball were missing from the back of Hutcherson’s truck, they found a vertical drop hitch under one of the tables in the restaurant. LPD Investigator Diannia Duncan arrived at the scene, questioned Hutcherson and he admitted that the trailer and smoker belonged to him.
Pryce Chapman, who owns the building that houses the restaurant, took Guy to Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup, where he was treated for a lower-back injury, a twisted left foot, a bruised spleen and a cracked rib.
Guy said that every day the business is closed is a day he isn’t making any money.
“It’s depressing. I’ve put a lot of work into this place since I opened in October. I don’t make a lot of money, but I have been making a little and sharing it with the employees. Hopefully, this Friday we can get in here and get everything cleaned up and in order where I can at least open back up,” Guy said.
The restaurant owner did say, however, that he’s thankful no one was in the room that the trailer crashed through.
“I had the room reserved. The Sons of the Confederacy were having their meeting — another five minutes later and that room would have had 15-20 people in it. Can you imagine how many would have been hurt? And I mean could have been hurt bad,” Guy said.
Duncan said Hutcherson was cited, charged with failure to maintain a load and given a court date.