WASHINGTON — Two women have died and multiple people are injured after a car crashed into the outside seating area of a restaurant in Northwest, D.C. on Friday afternoon, police say.
Police identified 73-year-old Terese Dudnick Taffer and 76-year-old Jane Bloom, both from Northwest, D.C. as the deceased victims from the crash.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the crash happened at the Parthenon restaurant in the 5500 block of Connecticut Avenue in Northwest, D.C.
In a news conference, MPD Second District Commander Duncan Bedlion said a preliminary investigation led officers to believe the driver, an unidentified elderly man, was driving alone on Connecticut Avenue when he lost control of the vehicle and accidentally crashed into the outdoor dining area.
According to police, the driver was driving a 2008 Subaru Forester.
DC Fire has confirmed 11 people were injured in the collision, including the driver. Eight people were taken to nearby hospitals for help and officials say five of those people were in critical condition. MPD has confirmed two of those victims, both unidentified women, have died.
Three people were treated at the restaurant and released.
Bedlion said all of the victims were sitting outside the restaurant when the crash occurred.
In the afternoon news conference, DC Fire and EMS Chief John A. Donnelly confirmed the victims are adults between 30 and 80 years old. The eight who were seriously injured were taken to various hospitals across the District as to not overwhelm hospital staff.
Donnelly said DC Fire declared the crash a "mass casualty incident," which allows crews more resources to take care of the victims. He said the department hasn't seen an incident like this in years.
"This is rare," said Donnelly. "This isn’t the type of call - we haven’t had an incident like this in many years. A car hitting a crowd of people is a very serious event and obviously, we see it's a tragedy and results in a lot of serious injuries."
Police believe the crash was truly accidental and say the elderly driver is cooperating with officers to figure out what caused him to lose control of the vehicle.
The Major Crash Investigation Unit is leading the case. Anyone with information or video of the crash is encouraged to reach out to MPD through the tipline at 202-727-9099 or text 50411.
Officials have shut down several roadways as crews investigate the crash. Those closures include the 5400 block through the 5600 block of Connecticut Ave. in both directions. Drivers should seek alternate routes as closures may change. There is no word on when the roadways will open.
The Parthenon is a Greek restaurant that has been a neighborhood staple since its opening in 1989. Officials say the building structure was not damaged in the crash.
“There are so many people I see every day sitting there with coming out for a casual something, and what a tragic outcome for what should be a delightful afternoon," a neighbor named Steve, who didn't wish to give his last name said.
After hearing that two people had died, Steve brought flowers to lay beside the rubble outside the restaurant.
“I just wanted to leave something, just to show care.”
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