CLEARWATER, Florida - The Dillard's store at Countryside Mall is dealing with quite a cleanup after a driver slammed into the building early Wednesday morning. Officials with Clearwater Fire Rescue said the man was trying to kill himself.
According to fire rescue, the driver sped up and crashed into a storage room, which sparked a fire. A sprinkler system inside nearly put out the flames by the time firefighters arrived.
Crews then pulled the driver, identified as 64-year-old Ellis Vaughn, out the car and rushed him to the hospital with burns and serious injuries. Fire officials said Vaughn left a suicide note in his unlocked home.
At least 24 units were on the scene from multiple agencies, including Clearwater, Dunedin, and Tampa. It took nearly four hours to clear all the smoke from the building.
The storage room was left with a lot of smoke, fire, and water damage.
Lauren Clark with media relations at Westfield Countryside Mall tells 10 News that Dillard's is expected to open some time on Wednesday, and that the damage was "minor," localized in a back room where merchandise is kept. The rest of the mall opened at its normal time.