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Redondo Beach bystanders hurt when driver, 88, plows into restaurant

The man was trying to park his Jaguar sedan when he apparently hit the accelerator instead of the brakes. More than a dozen are injured, none seriously.

March 30, 2009|Joel Rubin

An elderly man lost control of his luxury sedan Sunday afternoon in Redondo Beach, injuring more than a dozen people when he plowed into a restaurant, a fire official and witnesses said.

About 2:45 p.m., the driver was attempting to park his four-door Jaguar in front of Ham Supreme near Pacific Coast Highway and Carnelian Street, said Jennifer Magana, who was working in the delicatessen at the time.

The 88-year-old man, whom police did not immediately identify, apparently hit the car's accelerator instead of the brake pedal, sending the car hurtling through the store's glass facade, police and Magana said.

"It happened in a split second," said Magana, who described the driver as emerging "dazed and confused" from the vehicle. "There were people in shock. People were screaming."

Magana and others pushed the car back to free a woman pinned against the wall. A toddler and at least one other person were hit hard enough that they were thrown through the wall into the adjoining business, said Magana and Frank Mead, operations chief for the Redondo Fire Department.

"We were preparing for the worst," Mead said.

Remarkably, the young boy and four others taken to a hospital did not appear to be seriously injured, Mead said. Several other people were treated at the scene for cuts from flying glass and other minor injuries, Mead said.

The driver was not cited but will be referred to the California Department of Motor Vehicles for an evaluation of his license, Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Peter Grimm said.

"This could have been a lot worse than it was," Grimm said. "We caught a break."

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joel.rubin@latimes.com

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