A man believed to be in medical distress lost control of his vehicle and plowed into an outdoor dining area in San Jose, California on Sunday.
The incident sent eight people to the hospital and two of the three women hospitalized remain in critical condition, according to ABC 7 News.
Instead of the brake, the elderly driver, 69, used the accelerator while trying to park his 2000 Toyota 4Runner at the Grand Century Plaza at Story and McLaughlin Roads, CBS SF reported.
“Right now, all indications, talking to witnesses and collecting evidence is he thought he was using his brake but accelerated,” San Jose police Sgt. Christian Camarillo said.
Surveillance footage shows the vehicle bouncing off two curbs and crossing four traffic lanes before slamming into outdoor tables set up by Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant.
Mall surveillance video obtained by @KPIXtv shows the SUV jumping two curbs, crossing 4 lanes of traffic, before plowing into outdoor diners at Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant. 2 diners are in critical. SJPD says the 69-year-old driver used the accelerator instead of the brake pic.twitter.com/aporE5GoGA
— Betty Yu (@BettyKPIX) October 13, 2020
John Brown, a San Mateo resident, was manning a nearby political booth at the time. He witnessed the crash and its immediate aftermath.
“The noise when (the 4Runner) went through was like a huge grinding sound because of all the tables and everything caught underneath,” Brown told The Mercury News. “It was so fast a lot of people didn’t react at first. I saw them go in the ambulances. Everyone was very shocked.”
The incident remains under investigation. The driver is cooperating with authorities and sustained minor injuries, according to Sgt. Camarillo.
“Indications are the elderly male may have been in medical distress prior to the collision,” the San Jose Police Department posted on Twitter.
Indications are the elderly male may have been in medical distress prior to the collision. The incident was reported at 12:27pm. No other information is available at this time.
— San Jose Police Media Relations (@SJPD_PIO) October 11, 2020
The crash has sparked concerns about the safety of outdoor dining as a response to COVID-19. Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant does not have a permit to serve outdoors. The business had set up a tent outside for dim sum diners. If you need retractable bollards to act as a safety barrier for your restaurant and customers, you might want to visit sites like https://protogetic.com/marketplace/vehicle-barriers/retractable-bollards/ to order one.
“In this particular instance, the business did not register with us or contact us,” Nanci Klein, director of San Jose’s Economic Development Department, told KRON 4. “We ask even private entities to register and we do, once they register, work with them to provide say metal barricades.”
The Santa Clary County Public Health Department initiated mandatory restrictions on outdoor dining effective early July in precautions against COVID-19.
A second crash occurred less than a mile away and under six hours later at 1960 Story Road. This time, a woman rolled her 2009 F-150 into a strip mall parking lot.
Like the earlier incident, the driver accidentally used the accelerator instead of the brake, causing the vehicle to launch into a pedestrian and a food trailer. The woman was unharmed while the pedestrian sustained serious injuries and died hours later, according to San Jose Inside.