Craig Caplan was selling Boston caps and T-shirts at noon Thursday from his carts near Washington and School streets when he heard an eruption of terror.
“There was a collective scream of about 100 people,” Caplan said. “Everybody screamed and came running.”
He turned his head and saw a scene of chaos. Bystanders surrounded a silver Mercedes-Benz that had just barreled into a tour group walking the Freedom Trail. They were lifting the car to free a woman pinned underneath. The driver had run into a nearby building, witnesses said.
The car had been traveling down School Street when it collided with the tour group, which was heading east on Washington Street and crossing School Street, Caplan said. The car hit two women and a boy, all of whom suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Boston police said.
People gathered around the vehicle and forced the driver to stop, Caplan said. About 10 people picked up the car to rescue the woman underneath, while doctors in the crowd assisted the other woman and the boy.
The driver of the car took her cellphone and went through the door of the building next to a nearby Bruegger’s Bagels restaurant, Caplan said. When police arrived, they brought her back outside.
No arrests had been made as of Thursday afternoon, said police, who gave no other information.
Victoria Ambroise was about to take her break at Bruegger’s Bagels when people ran into the restaurant.
“Customers came in right when it happened, saying, ‘Somebody just got hit! Somebody just got hit!’ ” she recalled.
A few minutes later, she saw a large crowd gathered around the crash scene.
“I saw a little boy on the floor,” she said. “He was shaking uncontrollably. I saw a woman laying there, too, but they were tending more to the child.”
Brendan Kearney, who works nearby at Walk Boston, a pedestrian advocacy organization, ran to the scene after seeing news of the crash on social media. He said he saw two people, who appeared to be conscious, taken away on stretchers.
Kearney said he spoke to the tour guide, who was dressed in a Colonial outfit. After the crash, the tour guide “went over to the car, opened the door, and put the car into park,” Kearney said.
“At that time, [the driver] ran out of the car and tried to run away,” he said.
The tour guide said the group had the right of way when it crossed the street, Kearney said.
“This happened right in the middle of the day near Downtown Crossing,” he said. “This is a wake-up call to the city that we need to make sure we’re making it safer for people to get around.”
Kearney called the guide “a great citizen of Boston, and he stepped right up along with a number of other people, bystanders who jumped right in to help the people.”
Crashes don’t happen often in the area because there are more people than there are vehicles, Kearney said. In January, a vehicle drove in reverse on Beacon and Tremont streets and hit a pedestrian, who had minor injuries.
“At noon, this place is absolutely slammed with people,” he said. “It’s right on the Freedom Trail.”