A car drove onto the sidewalk in the 2200 block nearly missing unsuspecting afternoon diners.
By Mary O’KEEFE
“So lucky no one was hurt.”
That phrase could be heard by witnesses and police as they looked at the twisted stanchions, tossed tables and chairs and downed street lamp in front of Zeke’s Smokehouse.
On Monday at about 4 p.m., a 65-year-old driver was traveling westbound on Verdugo Boulevard approaching the intersection at Verdugo Road/Montrose Avenue.
“Witnesses thought he was going to turn right,” said Sgt. Craig Tweedy, Glendale Police Dept.
But instead of turning, the male driver veered slightly to the right onto the sidewalk on the north side of Honolulu Avenue, in front of the former Rocky Cola restaurant in the 2200 block of Honolulu Avenue.
“He drove up the apron of the sidewalk as people were seated in front of the restaurants and came to rest in front of Star Café,” Tweedy said.
There were two tables occupied at Zeke’s, one with a mom, dad and toddler. A witness reported that as the car approached, Tweedy estimates the speed was between 25 and 30 miles per hour, the mother grabbed her toddler who was sitting in a booster chair and hurried to safety.
“She moved so fast,” said a witness.
Other witnesses at Zeke’s and Once Upon a Time bookstore saw members of the Crescenta Valley High School cross-country team run by on the sidewalk quickly followed by the car.
Many interviewed said it took a while to process what they were seeing.
“I was ringing someone up and I looked out the window and I saw someone driving pretty much at full speed just outside our window,” said Morgan Turnage, employee at Once Upon a Time bookstore. “It took my brain a moment to process that somebody was that close to our window … but he was driving as if it was just a road.”
Then she heard the driver hit the first lamppost.
The driver continued to travel westbound down the sidewalk, taking tables, chairs and stanchions with him. Gashes caused by the metal dragged under the car were visible on the sidewalk as was a light that was sheared off at the base and fell at the south side of the sidewalk, barely missing tables.
And no one – not those sitting at the outdoor tables at Zeke’s or Star Café or members of the CVHS cross-country team – was injured, although one runner was reportedly clipped by the car.
Tweedy said the cause of the accident appeared to be a medical condition of the driver although the incident is still under investigation.
The scene was reminiscent of a similar accident that occurred in 2014 when once again it was “lucky no one was injured.” In that accident a male driver in his 80s had a medical episode and fainted while driving eastbound in the 2200 block of Honolulu Avenue. The driver was stopped at the traffic light at Verdugo Road. He was the third vehicle back from the signal light.
“The driver appeared to be unconscious,” said Sgt. R. William of the Glendale Police Dept. at the time of the incident.
The vehicle rolled forward and hit a retaining wall on the north side of Honolulu Avenue. People ran up to the driver’s truck to see if he was all right and tapped on the window. The driver hit the accelerator, which pushed the two front vehicles into each other. One car was pushed into the entrance of Benitoite restaurant, which had not yet opened, striking the front entrance to the building.
The accidents at the busy intersection are a concern for members of the Montrose Shopping Park Association. Andre Ordubegian, MSPA president, said he wants to request the City of Glendale to look into putting some type of stone post barricades for areas like the north and southbound Honolulu Avenue sidewalks at Verdugo Boulevard.
“The sidewalks are really wide,” he said. “We have a lot of restaurants with [exterior] seating. Montrose is getting busier.”
Ordubegian was across the street from Zeke’s on Monday when the accident occurred.
“We are just so thankful no one was hurt,” he said.
However the knowledge of what could have happened haunts him and he wants to be proactive to “protect people in Montrose.”
The barricades can be done tastefully without taking away from the downtown charm of Montrose, Ordubegian said.
“They have some nice [barricades] in downtown Burbank and several movie theaters have them,” he added.
He plans on approaching the city with the request as a Montrose business owner (he owns Copy Network), and said that after his initial talk with some members of MSPA he feels the board will also want to make a request.
“This is a safety issue,” he said.