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7 Hurt After Crash Sends Car Into Restaurant Patio

May 20, 1999

WEST HOLLYWOOD — A woman suspected of drinking and driving plowed her Volvo sedan into a parked car early Wednesday morning, knocking the second car into the patio dining area of a popular diner and injuring seven people, authorities said.

The 1:30 a.m. crash caused chaos at Mel's Drive-In at 8585 Sunset Blvd. Witnesses said there were broken plates and crushed patio furniture. But a railing around the outdoor dining area helped minimize injuries and probably prevented more injuries, said Sgt. Bob Minutello of the West Hollywood station of the Sheriff's Department.

The injuries ranged from minor to serious. The driver, Susie Joo, a 21-year-old student at Santa Monica City College, was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Lt. Ken Leffler said Joo is paralyzed from the waist down, but that doctors said the paralysis may be temporary. She has been booked on suspicion of felony drunk driving.

Her passenger, also a 21-year-old student, told deputies that she and Joo began drinking at about 10 p.m. and each had about 10 shots of whiskey. She suffered minor injuries.

"They're lucky they're alive," Minutello said.

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