A Covington restaurant owner was injured Saturday when she was struck by a carload of juveniles who were allegedly fleeing after they failed to pay for a meal.
According to Covington Police Department reports, a group of people ran from the Mandarin Palace restaurant in the Newton Plaza Shopping Center off U.S. Highway 278 and jumped into a vehicle with two restaurant workers in pursuit.
One worker stepped in front of the vehicle and the other got behind it, attempting to block the driver in the parking space. Witnesses told police that the driver backed up and bumped into one of the women, then struck two cars, one in the back and one in the front. When the driver struck the car in front, the woman in front of the car fell. It was unclear if the driver ran her over or struck her as they fled the scene.
The victim was taken to Newton Medical Center, where she had surgery for a broken hip. She is still in the hospital but is listed in good condition.
Witnesses were able to provide a tag number and a registered owner of the vehicle. When officers arrived at the registered owner's home in Porterdale, they reportedly found the vehicle there and identified the driver as 17-year-old Melvin Lewis Hight, who was apparently driving on a learner's permit. The passengers in the vehicle were juveniles, aged 16, 12 and two 4-year-olds.
According to the report, the group had eaten lunch at the Mandarin Palace and then had a dispute over the bill and the quality of the meal. Instead of paying for the food they had eaten, they reportedly ran from the restaurant and attempted to leave without paying, which is when employees gave chase and attempted to stop them.
Hight was charged with theft of services, driving without a license, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and serious injury by vehicle. The juveniles who were with him were released to their parents, and complaints will be filed against the 12 and 16-year-old.