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13 Injured as Car Plows Into Garage Sale : Accident: Nine are sent to hospitals. A suspected drunk driver and a passenger are held for police by enraged witnesses.

June 23, 1991|LESLIE BERKMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — A garage sale on a residential street in Santa Ana turned into a terrifying scene Saturday when a car allegedly driven by a drunk driver careened into the yard, injuring 13 people.

Witnesses said a maroon Nissan Sentra jumped the curb and spun onto the driveway and lawn of Richard and Ruth Haley at 930 S. Karen Ave.

The car broke through a chain-link fence and dragged it like a whip, knocking people off their feet, before coming to a halt against the brick-and-wood front of the Haley house. Santa Ana police said there were no serious injuries, but nine people were taken to four hospitals. One woman was airlifted to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo.

Enraged bystanders prevented the driver and his passenger from leaving the scene until police could arrive.

"My mom grabbed the guy around the neck in a chokehold because he was trying to start the car," said Aaron Calderon, 19.

The Haleys' daughter, Lisa Biesieda, said that when the passenger in the car tried to run away, she gave chase. She jumped a fence, pulled a wooden post out of the ground and used it to knock him down. "He got up and ran anyway and then passed out in the middle of the street," Biesieda said.

Police said the passenger in the car was released. But the driver was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving and taken to Orange County Jail. His name was withheld pending verification that he is an adult.

A spokeswoman at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center said that by early afternoon three of the four patients it had received had been checked over and released. The fourth, a pregnant woman, was being kept for fetal monitoring as a precaution.

"I think the chain-link fence saved us," Biesieda, 29, said as she surveyed tire tracks on the lawn and long cracks left by the car's impact against the home's living room wall.

Biesieda, who lives in Orange but was holding the sale at her parents' house, said that her mother and sister-in-law had gone to the hospital for treatment of cuts and bruises. Her sister-in-law had shielded Biesieda's 6-year-old daughter, Hailey, who landed in a rosebush, scratching a leg.

Margie Correa, a friend from Orange who had been helping with the sale, said, "I flew over a table and wound up on the cement."

Biesieda said that for six years she has held garage sales at her parents' home to dispense with clothes and toys that her children have outgrown. She said friends in the neighborhood where she grew up look forward to the annual event, which had become something of a "block party."

"Every year we have a garage sale, but never again," said Biesieda, adding, "I think from now on I will give my clothes to Goodwill."

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