NEWTON — An SUV plowed into a Newton restaurant Tuesday evening, killing two patrons and seriously injuring three people, officials said.
The two deceased victims were eating at Sweet Tomatoes on Washington Street, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said at the scene. She did not provide their names, ages, or genders because officials had not yet contacted next of kin.
Ryan said the crash occurred shortly after 6 p.m. when a vehicle came down Chestnut Street in West Newton and failed to stop at the intersection with Washington Street before slamming into the restaurant.
Seven people, including the driver, were sent to area hospitals with injuries, according to Ryan. It was not clear which of the surviving victims were occupants of the vehicle, restaurant employees, or patrons. Their ages were also not available.
Four of the injured people were taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, said Brian O’Dea, a hospital spokesman.
Two victims were expected to be discharged later Tuesday night. One of them was a woman and the other was the man who was driving the SUV, according to O’Dea.
A female Sweet Tomatoes employee and a male customer were in fair condition late Tuesday night and will remain at Newton-Wellesley, he added.
It was unclear which hospitals treated the other three victims.
Details were scarce at the scene. Ryan did not disclose the name or the age of the driver or say whether any criminal charges would be filed.
She also released no information about what may have caused the crash.
“We really are at the very beginning” of the investigation, she said, adding that crash reconstruction had to be conducted.
The damaged vehicle remained at the scene at about 8:30 p.m. Ryan added that all of the “employees are accounted for.”
Shortly before 10:30 p.m., firefighters removed tarps from the restaurant, revealing a gray-colored vehicle inside the establishment with debris leaning against its roof.
The medical examiner’s van left the scene with the victims’ bodies at approximately 10:15 p.m. Firefighters and police officers had shielded the bodies from public view with sheets and tarps.
Mayor Setti Warren, on hand for the briefing, said that he wanted to “send my thoughts and prayers out to the family of the victims in this awful tragedy.”
Laila Decastro, 20, of Newton was among the crowd gathered at the scene. She said her mother knows the restaurant owner.
“I come here all the time, it’s just crazy,” she said. “Everyone was going home, having some dinner, having some pizza.”
Riccardo of Newton, who did not give his last name, added, “Usually cars go slow here. It’s a busy intersection ... it would be strange that a car would go through a restaurant, because there’s all kind of lights around.”
Lisa Mobilia, 52, was among the onlookers who had gathered near the police caution tape.
“We’re just hoping for the best” for everyone who survived the crash, she said.
Mobilia said she did not see the incident but was stunned when she learned two people had been killed.
Julie Gagnon, 42, of Newton, said she was coming out of a nearby parking lot and saw shattered glass by the restaurant.
She said she initially thought there had been a kitchen fire, because firefighters were throwing debris out of a window.
She did not see any of the victims.
“It’s heart-wrenching,” Gagnon said of the two deaths. “It’s horrible.”
Earlier, at about 6:30 p.m., the Newton Police Department tweeted that Washington Street was closed at Chestnut Street and advised people to avoid the area.
The restaurant is located at a busy intersection near other restaurants and shops, as well as a police station.
Faris Sheikh, who lives down the street from Sweet Tomatoes, was walking over to vote when he saw the ambulances.
Sheikh did not see the crash himself, but he said he heard “there was a good amount of people eating” inside the restaurant when the SUV ran into the building.
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