Car smashes into D.C. building that houses restaurant

June 25, 2013

A car jumped a curb downtown Tuesday evening, hurtled through an outdoor dining area and crashed into an office building, D.C. police said. Four people were injured, including a 2-year-old boy.

Police said the car struck the building, which houses chef Michel Richard’s Central restaurant, at 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW at 6:19 p.m. A police captain on the scene said that the three injured adults were women, and that one appeared to be the driver of the car. It was not clear whether any of those injured were diners.

All four were taken to hospitals. Timothy Wilson, a spokesman for the D.C. fire department, said the child and two adults had suffered life-threatening injuries.

The restaurant is at the corner of a block-long office building just west of the FBI headquarters. It appeared that the black sedan came to rest against a wall of the building, near an entrance to the restaurant, but did not go inside the building. The vehicle’s hood was damaged, and it appeared that air bags had deployed.

Central’s manager said nobody inside the restaurant had been struck.

“We’re open for service and will continue letting customers in through our 11th Street entrance,” manager Aneta Tomdio said.

At least one table had been turned on its side in the dining area outside the restaurant. Belongings still hung from chair backs. Napkins, broken dishes and shattered glass littered the sidewalk outside the building. Napkins and half-empty glasses could be seen on one of the umbrella-shaded tables that remained upright.

“The car jumped the curb, took a tree out, took up the chairs and hit the wall,” said a security officer who works in a nearby building. He said he heard a woman cry, “My baby, my baby.”

“The engine kept running for a while,” said the man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Kevin Robinson had left work and was on his way to the Federal Triangle Metro station when the car ran onto the sidewalk. He did not see what happened, but he heard it, describing the sound of the impact and screams. He said that he went to help and that “everyone was in a state of confusion.”

It was not immediately clear what caused the vehicle to veer from the street at a time when the area usually has heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Within a few minutes of the crash, police had closed off a portion of the intersection, blocking traffic on westbound Pennsylvania Avenue. All lanes were reopened by 7:30 p.m.

Wilson, the fire department spokesman, said rescuers were sent to the scene by 6:21 p.m,. two minutes after the report of the crash. The first rescue vehicle was at the scene, near the Old Post Office Tower, by 6:24 p.m., he said.

By 8:30 p.m., the car had been towed from the scene, which is east of the White House and west of the Capitol.

Martin Weil contributed to this report.

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