PALMETTO BAY, Fla. (WSVN) — The owner of a Palmetto Bay diner is thankful that no one was seriously hurt after a longtime customer slammed into the entrance, bringing her car all the way inside.
7Skyforce HD hovered above the scene of the crash at Walter’s Restaurant, located at a shopping plaza along the 17000 block of South Dixie Highway, Monday afternoon.
Miami-Dade Police and Fire Rescue units responded to the scene of the crash just after 2:45 p.m. to find a Mazda 5 completely inside the business.
The owner of the diner, Grace Berbrick, said she never would have imagined something like this happening to her restaurant.
“We’re trying our hardest to get through 2020. I don’t know what else could happen,” she said.
Walter’s, a staple in Palmetto Bay, has been around for decades.
“I just took a deep breath and was like, ‘OK, we’ll get through this,'” said Berbrick.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Berbrick said, they are only open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., so the crash took place as they were preparing to close.
“The damage is bad. It’s bad,” she said.
Paul Crespo, who works at Work of Art Barbering, located next door to the diner, said the loud noise startled him.
“I was scared. I thought something fell on somebody or something, and then, the next thing you know, I would have never known it was a car through a restaurant,” he said.
The deafening bang caused people in the shopping plaza to come outside to look.
“I was cutting hair, and the next thing you know is ‘boom,’ like loud,” he said, “and then I see people walking that way. I start walking to the door. I left my client here, and when I walk over there, the car is fully in the restaurant already.”
Berbrick described the extensive damage to her business.
“TVs are down. There’s this cement wall, and there’s another wall, and they’re both gone,” she said, “and then, the bar, she hit the bar and moved the bar.”
It remains unclear how many people were inside of restaurant. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.
People at the scene who said they know the driver said she was the only one inside of the vehicle and is OK.
“Yeah, there are several people saying that she got confused, or probably medical issues or something,” said Crespo.
Berbrick said the driver is no stranger.
“I’ve been waiting on her for 40 years,” she said.
As of Monday night, authorities have not provided details as to what may have led to the crash.
“She’s very old. She doesn’t need to be driving. She’s a nice lady; she’s from the area,” said Berbrick. “Things happen, you know?”
Crews have since removed the restaurant’s front door as they continue to clear debris.
7News cameras captured the moment the Mazda — seen with a Black Heritage History Museum sign attached to the driver’s side door– was towed from the scene.
Monday evening, construction equipment was brought in to clean up the lobby area as well as some boards to close off the front section.
For now, Berbrick said, her focus is on making repairs so she can reopen the restaurant.
“My heart was in my mouth. I was just so happy that nobody got hurt, ’cause it could have been a lot worse,” she said.
Berbrick said she hopes to reopen in two days.
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