A Shasta County man was arrested Saturday afternoon when he overshot a Santa Rosa freeway exit, plowed through a chain-link fence and smashed into the side of Denny's.
Leonard Sheard, 45, of Hat Creek, was charged with drunken driving and hit-and-run in the crash that startled patrons and employees of the Baker Avenue restaurant.
"It was like coming right at me," said a Denny's waiter who identified himself only as Giovanny. "It shook the wall."
Sheard's black Mercury sedan was northbound on Highway 101 at about 2:20 p.m. when he attempted to exit at Baker Avenue, which turns sharply to the right.
But he was driving too fast and instead careened across the street, striking the side of Denny's at an estimated 40 mph, CHP Sgt. David Derczo said.
His car missed a plate-glass window but hit a wall, leaving a foot-deep impression.
The driver then jumped out a car window and fled on foot. He was caught by Santa Rosa police not far away.
Derczo said he had been driving on a suspended license.