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Restaurant owner hit by vehicle

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- One of the owners of the Mandarin Palace restaurant, located on U.S. Highway 278 in Newton Plaza shopping center, was seriously injured when she was struck by an automobile driven by a customer who was allegedly trying to leave the restaurant without paying his bill, according to the Covington Police Department.

Melvin Lewis Hight, 17, of 39 N. Broad St., Porterdale, has been arrested and charged with theft of services, driving without a license, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and serious injury by vehicle.

According to CPD reports of the incident, about 2:20 p.m. Saturday, five people -- Hight and four juveniles ages 16, 12 and two 4-year-olds -- ate a meal at the restaurant and then ran from the location and got into a Ford Contour in the parking lot.

"Workers from the restaurant gave chase, attempting to stop the vehicle to get the group to pay their bill," the incident report states. "Hight, however, backed out of the parking space and while turning around in the through lane, struck two vehicles. One of the workers from Mandarin Palace ... was at the front of Hight's vehicle with her hands on the hood of the car in an attempt to keep the vehicle in the parking lot. During Hight's attempt to leave the parking lot, (she) was knocked to the ground."

The incident report states the driver of a Toyota Tacoma had witnessed the incident and attempted to block Hight in, but he struck that car as well while making his escape.

According to the incident report, another witness was on the scene and was able to tell police there were two women who were apparently trying to prevent Hight from leaving the scene. He said he saw Hight back out of his parking space and "bump into the female at the rear of the vehicle ... he then struck a Dodge Charger and pulling forward after turning around in the parking lot struck another vehicle, a Nissan Murano. (The witness) stated that while the car was pulling forward he observed the female in front of the vehicle fall to the ground in front of the vehicle."

The woman who fell to the ground was transported by ambulance to Newton Medical Center, and according to CPD spokesman Lt. Wendell Wagstaff, she suffered a broken hip which required surgery. She remains hospitalized in good condition.

It was determined Hight was driving with a learner's permit. The juveniles who were with him were released to the custody of their parents and juvenile complaints will be filed against the 12-year-old and the 16-year-old.