Six injured after car crashes into downtown Palo Alto coffee shop

One person was critically injured and five suffered less serious injuries Thursday afternoon after a vehicle crashed into University Cafe in downtown Palo Alto, prompting police to shut down a section of University Avenue to traffic.

According to early reports from the police scanner, a car driven by an elderly man hit several tables outside the coffee shop at 271 University Ave. at around 12:36 p.m. The man, who was driving a silver Nissan Versa, was one of five people injured in the crash. He was being interviewed by officers Thursday afternoon.

Five of the victims were taken to Stanford Hospital for treatment.

A section of University Avenue, between Ramona and Bryant streets, was closed off to traffic Thursday afternoon while medical responders arrived at the crash scene and officers investigated. As far as the police know, the driver did not have a medical incident immediately before the crash, according to police Agent Marianna Villaescusa.

At least five ambulances were dispatched to the coffee shop between Ramona and Bryant streets. Initial reports suggested three people were critically injured.

One eyewitness, James Fowler, told the Weekly that he was standing outside the coffee shop with his wife, about to go inside, when he saw the car accelerate out of the corner of his eye.

"The car was stopped behind another car and then I just saw out of the corner of my eye, it accelerated up onto the curb," Fowler said.

He pulled his wife out of the way just as she felt the car brush against her dress. They then saw the car run into an outdoor table, hitting one man, he said. Another person who was standing was also hit and was "carried by the car," he said.

Police said the section of University Avenue will be closed "indefinitely" while the scene is being investigated.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I wish for those who were injured in this mishap a speedy recovery.

This type of 'accident' is completely needless. The DMV has to become much more vigilant in revoking the licenses of those who are in the mental state where they get the accelerator and brake pedals confused.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by pedestrian
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Police are reporting that the driver was in his 90s. This collision sounds eerily similar to the one in Menlo Park last year when two boys were nailed by a car that jumped the curb. Why are sidewalks always so close to parking spaces?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 3:20 pm


The parking spaces where the Menlo Park incident happened are diagonal to the sidewalk. If a driver doesn't back out of the parking space, he can easily go forward onto the sidewalk.

Along this section of University Ave. in Palo Alto, cars are parked parallel to the sidewalk which generally provides a buffer to pedestrians from street traffic, unless someone drives up onto the sidewalk at the intersection, which is apparently what happened in this situation.

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