A wild chain-reaction crash between a city van and a sedan sent the car careening into diners outside the historic Miss Worcester Diner Thursday morning in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Witnesses say the car was going through the intersection when a Worcester Regional Transit Authority van tried to turn left in front of it. The two collided, sending the car into the Southbridge Street establishment's outdoor dining area.
"It sounded like an explosion," said Rob Russell, who witnessed the crash. "I literally thought the building just exploded around me. You could feel the building shake a little, there was some vibration that went into the building."
“A bang and then all the sudden next thing you know a car is knocking me off my chair into the building,” said Tim from Attleboro.
“We heard a big bang so we all looked up and we saw him coming right towards us, but it was so fast, we couldn’t even get up,” said Tim’s wife Jill.
A family sitting at the table on the sidewalk was thrown back, but amazingly escaped with only minor bumps and bruises.
“I’m fine, just banged my head a little bit, that it,” said Tim.
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Jill added, “Just my arm from falling over.”
Russell added that people at the restaurant began to panic, but checked if people were hurt and rushed to get help for those involved in the crash.
Other diners and owner Kim Kniskern quickly rushed to help the family and the man behind the wheel of the car that crashed.
Kniskern said, “I got a full house in here, everybody came running out.”
“The biggest injury was the gentleman driving the car, they had to use jaws of life, they had to cut the door off the car to get him out of the car and transport him to the hospital,” said Russell.
Witnesses said that driver was alert and talking when he was taken away in an ambulance.
The WRTA van had no passengers. The driver, who works for SCM Elder Bus, was uninjured.
Russell said, “He pulled over there on the other side of the street, he was pretty shaken up.”
Eight-year-old Anna Jurgiel and her mom are feeling lucky after nearly sitting at the table that was struck.
Jurgiel said, “A couple minutes after we got here, there was a car accident right at the table that my mom wanted us to sit at.”
Thankfully the family that did end up sitting there was able to walk away from the accident – and even finish their meal inside.
Tim said, “It is scary but it’s just – we’re alive, we’re well so that’s all that counts.”
The owner of the diner says building inspectors deemed it was structurally sound.
There was no update Thursday night on the condition of the driver of the car. The van driver has been tested for drugs and alcohol, which is standard protocol in a crash.
It’s unclear who had the green light and whether any charges will be filed.