An elderly driver who lost control of her car hit a bicyclist and plowed into a Mendocino Avenue Mexican restaurant Friday afternoon.
Barbara Williams said she was pulling into a space in the Big Lots parking lot near the intersection of Steele Lane around 2:30 p.m. when her 2004 Toyota Camry unexpectedly accelerated.
“I was easing into a spot between two cars when suddenly it took off,” said Williams, who declined to give her age. “It just accelerated on its own.”
Witnesses said her car ran over the curb, struck the cyclist, shot across Mendocino Avenue, jumped the center median and smashed into the patio at Taqueria Santa Rosa.
The identity and condition of the cyclist were not immediately available. He was described as man in his 40s wearing a helmet. The Camry's windshield was smashed in from the impact with the cyclist.
Witnesses said the Camry just missed a car occupied by a woman and her grandchildren.
“She was pretty shaken up,” said witness Barrett Jayne of the grandmother. Jayne works at the Last Record Store and saw the accident and the aftermath.
The car destroyed a wall and planter bordering the restaurant patio, sending bricks and dirt flying into the patio where people were eating. Employees said the sound was frightening.
Williams said the cyclist could talk and move a little as he was being treated by paramedics.
She insisted it was not driver error that caused the crash but a malfunctioning vehicle. “I'm not a reckless driver,” she said.
Mendocino Avenue was closed for about an hour as traffic was routed around the area.