Convenience store clerk run over with truck while at work

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

ENERGY, Ill. - A local convenience store clerk is in intensive care in a St. Louis Hospital after being run over by a truck while on the job. The hit-and-run happened at the Casey's General Store in Energy, Illinois.

Investigators said 43-year-old Sherri Branch was sitting on the curb outside the store taking a smoke break. Police believe 41-year-old Tracy Hardcastle mistook the gas pedal for the break, hit Branch and dragged her to an embankment at the back of the store.

The driver, Hardcastle, took off and ran from police. They caught her moments later. She now faces a long list of charges.

The Ford Ranger may only have a few scratches, but Energy Police Chief Shawn Ladd said it is the vehicle Tracy Hardcastle was driving when she plowed into Sherri Branch, on the curb of the Energy Casey's.

"Ms. Hardcastle is known to us. She's been arrested before," said Ladd.

Right after the crash, police said Tracy Hardcastle took off and hid from them in a friend's house blocks away. The chief said Hardcastle had a revoked license and was under the influence of drugs.

She's now denying that she was behind the wheel.

Meanwhile those who grew up with Sherri Branch are keeping their fingers crossed for her recovery.

"Oh God, I hope and pray that she will cause she's such a good person," said Nicholle Curby, a childhood friend.

Branch has three children. Employees at the store have a jar out on the counter accepting monetary donations for the family.

Tracy Hardcastle had outstanding warrants in Saline and Jackson Counties for credit card fraud and larceny.

She's in the Williamson County Jail.

Branch's ex-husband told Local 6 that she had a broken back, bleeding liver and collapsed lung. The police chief said she is in stable condition.

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