A customer sitting in a Carl’s Jr. was sent flying across the restaurant and killed Sunday after a speeding car plowed into the building.
Yolanda Vasquez and her boyfriend Frank Barnes had pulled up to the restaurant on Second St. in El Cajon just before 8:45 a.m. They thought the place was closed until they saw a man, described as in his sixties, sitting in a corner booth.
“He looked at me and I looked at him and I said ‘they’re open’. So she went into the restaurant. I stayed outside and I waited and waited and when she came out I looked at that guy one more time,” Barnes said.
As soon as the couple pulled out of the parking spot, a speeding car flew right by them.
“He missed us by about an inch,” Barnes said. “As soon as we turned around to leave, boom. I heard this big old boom and when I turned around I saw all this glass explode out of the window and then I noticed that the man wasn’t sitting there.”
The customer was hurled from one end of the restaurant to the other, police said.
“A woman ran inside. She said, ‘there’s a man down in here’,” Barnes said. “He had his back towards the window so I don’t think he saw anything coming.”
The man died at the scene.
An employee at the restaurant says the victim was a retired teacher and a regular customer who always sat in the same spot.
Barnes thinks the victim was only customer inside the restaurant at the time of the crash. That might have been a different story if Craig Burger hadn’t been trying to save some money.
“I was parked over here, facing the restaurant, looking to see if I had a coupon for Carl’s Jr.,” Burger said. “I looked over to the left and out of the corner of my eye I saw this small SUV.”
He said the car wasn’t driving in a lane, but speeding through parking spots.
“I thought… that guy’s going really fast. I looked right ahead and I thought, he’s not going to be able to stop, He’s going to go right through the building,” Burger said.
He was right.
“He didn’t hit the brakes. He didn’t swerve, nothing. Just right though the building,” Burger said. “Just knocked out the whole corner of the building.”
Paramedics got the driver out of his car. He was identified as a 74-year old from El Cajon according to the San Diego Union Tribune. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
The restaurant was closed until further notice. Investigators are concerned about the structure of the building.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.