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1 driver damaged Daily rack hours before 2nd man hit office

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — A couple of hours before a driver smashed into The Daily's building Saturday morning, an alleged drunk driver ran over a Daily newspaper rack in Athens, according to police.

Athens police Lt. Floyd Johnson said the Athens driver almost hit a patrol car at Tanner Crossroads, where U.S. 31 and Huntsville-Browns Ferry Road intersect.

Johnson said the driver then went into the parking lot at Bud's convenience store.

"The car struck a Decatur Daily rack before it stopped," Johnson said. "The driver told the officer his brakes went out."

Police didn't believe that story and charged the 47-year-old man with misdemeanor DUI. The impact did $100 damage.

That incident occurred Friday at 10:25 p.m.

On Saturday at 12:30 a.m., a police chase in Decatur ended when a Trinity driver hit a brick and concrete wall at the newspaper's warehouse, shattering cement blocks inside and crumbling outside bricks.

Decatur police said alcohol likely was a factor.

The driver, Gilbert Lee Watts, 48, remained in Huntsville Hospital's surgical intensive care unit in critical condition Monday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.

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