Man loses control of vehicle, slams into outdoor dining crowd

Shaniqua Juliano

SAN JOSE — Eight people were taken to a hospital after an elderly driver slammed into a crowd of outdoor diners Sunday at Grand Century Plaza in East San Jose, police said. Police responded to reports of the crash at about 12:27 p.m. at the intersection of Story Road and […]

SAN JOSE — Eight people were taken to a hospital after an elderly driver slammed into a crowd of outdoor diners Sunday at Grand Century Plaza in East San Jose, police said.

Police responded to reports of the crash at about 12:27 p.m. at the intersection of Story Road and McLaughlin Avenue.

Police said that investigators found that an elderly male driver lost control of his 2000 Toyota 4Runner and drove into an outdoor dining area, striking several people.

The injuries ranged from major to minor, police said. There were no immediate updates on the conditions of those more seriously hurt.

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John Brown, 40 of San Mateo, was manning a political booth nearby when he saw the collision happen in front of him. Brown said a man driving a vehicle went across the sidewalk and median and into the parking lot, where some two dozen people were in the outdoor dining area.

The crash was quickly followed by a chaotic flurry of people screaming and attempting to help those who were injured, Brown said, with some laying on the ground, motionless.

“The noise when (the 4Runner) went through was like a huge grinding sound because of all the tables and everything caught underneath,” Brown said. “It was so fast a lot of people didn’t react at first. I saw them go in the ambulances. Everyone was very shocked.”

Buck Suggs, 54, of San Jose, who was also working at the booth, said he saw the vehicle parked in the lot directly across from the outdoor-dining area. Suggs said he heard the engine rev and the tires screech, then saw the 4Runner, smoke coming from its tires as it propelled across a two-lane road and a traffic median before crashing into the dining area.

People could be heard screaming “get out of the way” before a loud crashing sound, he said; in the aftermath, at least one woman was bleeding badly near the truck’s front end, he said.

Suggs said that parking-lot dining areas, as many restaurants have opened during the pandemic, are dangerous for diners.

“Open up inside the restaurant and let people eat inside,” he said. “This is more dangerous because anybody could run into people. It’s a tragic accident. We need more protection so this doesn’t happen.”

Officers said the elderly driver may have been in medical distress prior to the collision. No other information was immediately available.

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