Suziliene McDonald was sitting in the restaurant when, through the window, she saw a car speeding toward her.
“I screamed and tried to say, ‘There’s a car coming,’ but I couldn’t get it out. I got to, ‘There’s a car … ’ before it hit,” she said.
A family of about eight people had been eating in the outdoor courtyard of the Egg & I at 4533 W. Sahara Ave. about 12:30 p.m. Monday when a black Lexus sedan plowed into the courtyard and crashed through the restaurant’s window.
Ten people were hospitalized. Four people eating in the courtyard — three adults and one child — were pinned under the car. The injuries ranged from serious to critical, but everyone was expected to survive, authorities said.
McDonald was sitting away from the window and was not harmed. She said the car exploded on impact and smoke filled the restaurant.
Several patrons attempted to lift the car from the injured people, but McDonald stopped them.
“I said, ‘Don’t try to move the car, you’ll cause more damage,’ ” she said.
Her advice proved to be correct.
Firefighters were forced to be extra cautious as they lifted the wreckage.
The rescuers used a process called “cribbing” to wedge timber underneath the rear of the car and slowly lift the vehicle, Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman Tim Szymanski said.
The Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue would have been faster, but firefighters needed to stabilize the car so that it didn’t shift and crush the victims, he said.
It took almost 30 minutes for the last person to be freed, Szymanski said. All four victims were badly hurt but awake when they were placed into ambulances, he said.
“As serious as it was, we are amazed there were no fatalities,” Szymanski said.
Sahara Avenue between Decatur Boulevard and Arville Street was closed for several hours.
Several patrons tackled the driver, a young man whose name was not released, when he tried to run.
McDonald heard him say, “I blacked out,” and ask, “Is that my car in the restaurant?” before he turned to run.
The driver was handcuffed and sitting outside the restaurant more than two hours after the crash. As of Monday afternoon, he had not been arrested .
A passenger in the car, sitting outside the restaurant with his head down, appeared angry and refused to give details about what happened before the crash.
“I didn’t crash into anything,” said the passenger, a young man. “It’s none of your business.”
Neither the passenger nor the driver was hospitalized or appeared hurt.
The passenger disputed that the driver had tried to run from the scene and said the driver had passed a sobriety test.
“It was an accident, OK?”
He then gave reporters a fake name.
“(Expletive) Santa Claus,” he said.
Brad Burdsall, who owns the Egg & I, didn’t see the crash and arrived a short time later.
He said one of his employees was among the seriously injured. He had no timetable on the restaurant’s re opening, and that was not his primary concern, he said.
“Business will go on another day,” he said. “I’m just worried about my customers and my employees.”
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.