D.C. police have released the identities of two women who died after a driver plowed into a restaurant’s outdoor seating area.
Terese Dudnick Taffer, 73, and Jane Bloom, 76, both of Northwest D.C. were killed in Friday's crash, police announced Saturday.
Six other people were hurt, including three who had life-threatening injuries.
All eight people were dining outside at the Parthenon Restaurant and Chevy Chase Lounge in the 5500 block of Connecticut Avenue NW, officials said, according to initial information.
According to a preliminary investigation, an elderly man lost control while driving, Second District Cmdr. Duncan Bedlion said at a news conference.
“All indications are this was truly accidental. There were no indications this was intentional,” he said.
Bedlion described the driver as elderly and did not cite his age.
Police said Saturday that, according to a preliminary investigation, the driver of a 2008 Subaru Forester was traveling south through a parking lot at "an apparent high rate of speed." The vehicle left the parking lot westbound and continue to travel south, then north before mounting a curb and striking seated restaurant patrons. The vehicle then struck a barrier and before coming to a stop.
Firefighters were called to the scene in the Chevy Chase neighborhood near the Maryland border, at about 12:45 p.m.
“It sounded like a freight train came through here,” said a man who reported hearing the impact.
D.C. Fire and EMS triaged multiple patients. Medics could be seen loading people onto stretchers.
“They were sitting, having lunch on a beautiful day, and it was, like, a few families there, and it was horrible,” said Christian Borjas, a nurse visiting from California who was at a nearby Starbucks.
Borjas was among the witnesses who ran to the scene to help.
“My first reaction was stand up and run to the accident, so what I started doing was pulling the people from their legs to the sidewalk and getting them in a safe place,” he said.
He said one of the victims was under the SUV.
“And I said, like, ‘There is somebody on the bottom,” Borjas said. “So, we see the lady, and, like, about five or six people, we did it together. We pulled the car up.”
Eight people were taken to hospitals with various injuries; five of those people had critical, life-threatening injuries, the fire department said. The two women who died were among those critically hurt. Three more people were evaluated on the scene but not taken to hospitals.
The ages of the victims range from about 30 to 80, officials said. No children were hurt.
The driver who caused the crash received treatment on the scene and was not taken to a hospital, Bedlion said.
The crash did not cause structural damage to buildings, officials said.
A silver Subaru SUV with D.C. plates could be seen on the sidewalk near Parthenon Restaurant.
An investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department is underway.
People who live in the area say the tragedy at the restaurant that’s been a beloved neighborhood fixture for decades left them shaken.
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Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact police at 202-727-9099 or text their tip to 50411.
Bedlion, the police commander, thanked people who flagged down police after the crash and expressed his condolences to the victims.
“It’s very sad. It’s an area where people have lunch every day,” he said.