Popular sign destroyed in Bainbridge crash; driver arrested

A photo of the "Birthday" sign in the parking lot of Five Points Cleaners, shown before a car crashed into it on May 10, 2019, destroying the elevated sign.

A Bainbridge business’ sign, that was popular with passing motorists for displaying residents’ birthdays, has been destroyed in a car crash.

The crash happened just after 9 a.m. on Friday, May 10 at Five Points Cleaners, which is located at the busy intersection of Scott and College streets in Bainbridge, also known as “Five Points.”

Jerome Alfonso Ford, 60, of Bainbridge, was driving a 1999 Pontiac Bonneville east on College Street and made a left-hand turn onto Scott Street, according a Bainbridge Public Safety report. However, while making the turn, Ford’s car drifted into the southbound lane of Scott Street and continued onto the curb, where it struck the Five Points Cleaners’ sign with the front bumper.

According to the accident report, by BPS Officer Jason Barlow, eyewitnesses to the crash stated Ford was speeding when he entered the intersection. Witnesses also reported that three passengers exited the vehicle and left the scene. There were no injuries reported. Ford was arrested and charged with driving while license suspended and failure to maintain lane.

Rick Ragan, owner of Five Points Cleaners, posted a picture of the sign after the crash, showing pieces of the sign scattered on the pavement–beyond repair. Ragan said that every morning when he arrived at work, he always changed the sign’s lettering to display that day’s local birthdays. It was commonly considered a special treat by both young and old to see one’s name up on the sign on the way to work or school.

The “birthday” sign outside Five Points Cleaners in Bainbridge lies on the pavement after it was damaged in a car crash on Friday, May 10, 2019. Five Points Cleaners owner Rick Ragan updated the sign with local residents’ birthdays each morning. | Photo Courtesy of Rick Ragan’s Facebook, used with permission

“Updating the birthdays was the ‘first order of business’ when I arrived each morning for many years,” Ragan said. “It didn’t take that long–what made it fun was to see children standing outside the store after school, having their picture taken next to the sign, with a smile on their face.”

Ironically, another sign outside Five Points Cleaners met a similar fate last fall. A brick and mortar sign located right at the intersection’s corner was destroyed by fierce winds from Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

There are no firm plans yet for any new signs, though Ragan said many people have asked him about it or shared their memories of the sign with him.

“Even though I’m sorry that it happened, it made me feel good to know that it meant so much to people,” Ragan said.

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