SUV slams into San Francisco tea lounge

June 14, 2010 11:07:20 AM PDT
There was chaos and confusion after an SUV plowed into a San Francisco café on Sunday. The crash happened outside the Samovar Tea Lounge near the corner of 18th and Sanchez Streets in the city's Castro District.

The crash shattered all the front windows in the café and it sent two people to the hospital. Police say they are relieved that nobody was killed.

When it first hit, the people inside Samovar Tea Lounge had no idea it was an SUV and that it was coming at them backwards. They just knew something bad had happened.

"I'm waiting on the tables and all you see is the big glass coming down and everybody screaming and running -- it was quite shocking," said Samovar manager Oscar Padilla.

"You kind of go into shock and say 'am I ok, are the people around me ok?' And then go 'how did a car back into a building?'" said crash victim Liz Etler.

"A car came backwards down Sanchez completely backwards out of control," said witness Tina Roberts.

Roberts is the owner of Urban Bread across the street and saw the whole thing.

"I actually saw the car coming and had the phone and was dialing 911 as it hit the building. It was obvious there was going to be injuries," said Roberts.

The SUV hit a woman who was sitting outside -- pinning her to the wall. Rescue crews say she suffered a broken pelvis and fractured ribs. She and the driver were taken to the hospital. At this point, investigators think the driver may have had a seizure.

"I can only speculate, since there are no skid marks, which indicates that she never hit the brakes," said SF Police Lt. Con Johnson.

Her SUV was on a steep hill when it started rolling backwards to the tea lounge. Its impact sent a circle of women, who were inside knitting, diving to the floor.

"I heard people scream and say 'get out of the way' or something -- so I slid off my bench and went under the table," said Etler.

Three people inside suffered minor cuts from the flying glass. They were treated for their injuries at the scene. It's going to take a bit longer for people to get over what happened.

"I'm pretty shook up, it's hard to see that, it's hard to see somebody get hit," said Roberts.

The police say considering that it was a beautiful day and there were lots of people walking in the intersection it could have been a lot worse. The city inspector said that the building may look bad, but there is no reason to red tag it and the people living above the tea lounge can stay.


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