Witnesses Recount Horrific Nightclub Scene

Nearby employees, neighbors among those to rush to scene

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC San Diego
    Tivoli Bar and Grill bouncer Russell Harman recounts the scene outside Stingaree, a San Diego nightclub where a taxi driver plowed into patrons on Feb. 12, 2011.

    Russell Harman wears a black Tivoli Bar and Grill shirt to work, part of the required dress code at the San Diego Gaslamp District’s oldest bar.

    On early Saturday morning, an accident forced him to become more than just a local dive pub bouncer.

    At 1:54 a.m., an Emerald Cab driver jumped a curb and plowed through a group of people standing outside the popular Stingaree downtown nightclub, and the driver was attacked afterward as part of what firefighters and police officers described as a “melee.”

    Stingaree Cab Crash Aftermath

    [DGO] Stingaree Cab Crash Aftermath
    Hours after a taxi cab jumped a curb and plowed into a crowd of nightclub patrons, Greg Bledsoe reports witnesses recounting the shocking scene.

    Altogether, 25 people were injured, 23 were hospitalized, and seven were in critical but relatively stable condition, said Maurice Luque, a spokesperson for San Diego Fire and Rescue.

    Harman said he and two other Tivoli employees sprinted across 6th Ave. to the shocking scene, attempting to restore order and assist the injured.

    Bouncers Rushed to Stingaree After Crash

    [DGO] Bouncers Rushed to Stingaree After Crash
    Russall Harman is one of many nearby bouncers who rushed to Stingaree after a taxi cab driver plowed into a large group of people, Jeff Nguyen reports.

    “There was a lot of people crying and screaming,” Harman said while standing outside Tivoli on Saturday evening. “There were people saying, ‘Oh, my girlfriend!’ or, ‘Oh, my husband!’ or, ‘Oh, my wife!’ …To me, I’m still struck about it. I mean, I really didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I’m kind of still shaken up about it.”

    A woman, whose leg would be amputated below the knee, had her leg pinned against the car and a wall. 

    The car backed up, and Tivoli said people then attacked the driver "because they thought he was backing up to leave."

    Others recounted the shocking scene.

    “It was so scary when I realized what had actually happened,” said Guy Handy, a nearby resident.

    A witness who wished not to be identified said "there were women and men just lying on the ground, just everywhere."

    On Tumblr, a blogging platform, local woman Kathy Soto detailed her entire personal experience after rushing to the scene. She received a phone call from her sister-in-law Melissa, who told Soto her brother-in-law had been hit by a car.

    Soto then went running to Stingaree, located on the corner of 6th Ave. and Island.

    "I lost Nick and our friends in the crowd," Soto wrote. "The streets were filled with people. Yelling. Screaming. Fighting. Crying. I could hear the terror in people’s screaming."

    Soto later found her brother- and sister-in-law. Her brother-in-law's jeans were torn, and his shoe had been ripped off his foot.

    "We were trying to get video of the scene for evidence," Soto wrote, "but one of the bouncers of Stingaree demanded that we turn off our phones."

    Luque said Sunday morning that the taxi driver is cooperating with investigators, and no charges have yet been filed. Alcohol and drugs were both ruled out Saturday as possible causes to the crash.

    Many people suffered such injuries as broken bones and lacerations, but no one required CPR, Luque said.