At least eight people were injured Sunday afternoon when a two-car collision sent a van hurtling into a group of people dining at a popular local restaurant in the mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles, police said.
The driver of the van, who police said caused the collision when he blew through a red light, was arrested after allegedly attempting to flee on foot, said Los Angeles Police Sgt. C. Barlow. Bystanders detained him less than a block away.
“He didn’t get very far at all,” Barlow said. The man, who was not immediately identified, was booked on suspicion of felony hit and run.
Witnesses described a dramatic scene outside The Fish Spot on Pico and Redondo boulevards, where shortly before 4 p.m. the van plowed through a white picket fence into several tables of diners.
Some people were lying with broken limbs, while another bled profusely from his head under pieces of furniture and fencing. Neighbors rushed out of their homes, some bursting into tears when they saw what happened. Bystanders were running around and screaming.
“It was scary and sad to see the people in pain,” said 15-year-old Andy Hernandez, who rushed to the restaurant on his skateboard after hearing a loud boom. “It was shocking.”
Five men and three women — ranging in age from 18 to 51 — were taken to a hospital, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
A 44-year-old man was in critical condition, while a 30-year-old man and two women, ages 18 and 28, were in serious condition. The four others who were hospitalized were in fair condition, fire officials said.
An off-duty Los Angeles firefighter was also in the crowd but did not sustain injuries that required hospitalization.
The restaurant’s 27-year-old owner, Felicity Inniss, had just walked away from serving a table outside when the collision occurred.
“He swerved around a few cars and next thing you know he was in the gate with us — people were under the van and hurt,” she said.
Two injured women collapsed, she said, as they tried to run away. Inniss rushed to the aid of the man bleeding from his head, throwing pieces of wood from the fencing and patio furniture off his body. He had been dining with his daughter, who looked about 10 years old and was not injured, she said.
“Everyone was just in a panic,” Inniss said, adding that the restaurant is usually more crowded. “It could’ve been way worse.”
About 7 p.m., officials towed away the van, which had a flat tire and a damaged bumper, as a crowd of people watched. Pieces of fried fish were scattered on the ground, amid splatters of blood, debris and articles of clothing.
Police said neither driver was injured, though witnesses reported seeing the man driving the van being rolled away on a stretcher. The other motorist, who was a driving a gray Ford truck, wasn’t cited. He was able to drive the vehicle away around 6:30 p.m.
Police said they don’t believe the van’s driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
8:20 p.m.: This article was updated with quotes and description from witnesses.
6:13 p.m.: This article was updated with a quote from someone who works nearby.
5:40 p.m.: This article was updated with a new figure on the number of injuries and details about the condition of victims.
4:50 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information.
This article was originally published at 4:35 p.m.