“A woman has been declared dead from injuries she suffered in a violent crash where a driver lost control of his SUV and plowed into a group of people dining outdoors at the Grand Century mall Sunday, according to San Jose police,” report Robert Salanga and Maggie Angst from San José, California.
Eight people, including the deceased, were injured during the crash, which was captured by surveillance video that is circulating online that shows the graphic and disturbing footage of the SUV easily plowing straight over curbs and directly into the dining area.
Mall surveillance video obtained by @KPIXtv shows the SUV jumping two curbs, crossing 4 lanes of traffic, before plowing into outdoor diners at Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant. 2 diners are in critical. SJPD says the 69-year-old driver used the accelerator instead of the brake pic.twitter.com/aporE5GoGA
— Betty Yu (@BettyKPIX) October 13, 2020
“The driver of the white 2000 4Runner, described by police as a 69-year-old man who claims he accidentally accelerated while trying to park, was also injured,” according to the article. Police are also saying that the driver might have suffered a medical emergency before driving the vehicle through the crowd.
The tragedy raises new questions about the safety of al fresco dining programs implemented around the country, including in San José, as an economic relief measure for restaurants during the pandemic. Elisabeth Handler, spokesperson for the city’s economic development office, is quoted in the article saying the restaurant did not have a permit to participate in the city’s outdoor dining program.
Besides a layer of oversight, the Al Fresco program avails businesses to free metal railings and concrete barriers for certain outdoor dining setups, though they are primarily used for road closures and parklets next to active traffic lanes. The city does not mandate a specific barrier type, but works with individual businesses to provide barriers to those who request them, said Nanci Klein, the city’s director of economic development.
Still, San José, a notoriously car-centric city, saw a similar incident nearby on the same day, according to the article: “About six hours after the crash at Grand Century, another violent collision occurred a mile away on Story Road involving another driver who claimed to have accidentally accelerated while trying to park, causing her Ford F-150 pickup truck to hit a food cart and kill a man.”