Patron Injured In Crash at Bob Evans

WHEELING – A sport utility vehicle ran into a wall at Bob Evans, knocking an elderly woman off her seat, police said.

The woman was injured inside the 775 National Road restaurant at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday when a vehicle driven by an elderly man ran into a wall.

Wheeling Police Lt. Rob Marriner said the man, who was not cited, was backing out of his parking space when his vehicle began to slide.

The man thought he had shifted the SUV into neutral, in an effort to stop the sliding, but he actually shifted into drive. He then accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake. This resulted in his vehicle jumping the curb and slamming into the eatery’s wall.

“She was sitting there eating when he ran into the wall. It knocked the woman down,” Marriner said.

The woman complained of arm and hip pain at the scene. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Marriner said the restaurant continued to operate afterward.

Wheeling resident Rick Harmon and his wife, JoAnn Thornton, were eating just one table over when the accident occurred.

“It was closer to JoAnn. We were sitting there and we heard a man at the table, he kind of screamed – he yelled, ‘Watch,’ and boom, the Ford Explorer boomed into wall. It spilled everything on their table,” Harmon said.

Thornton said a piece of molding on the window that was struck by the SUV hit her and the chair she was sitting in.

“There was elderly woman at the table who was shook up,” Harmon said, adding he could not tell if she fell to the floor because of the chaotic scene.

“Everyone was making sure everyone was OK. There was a child at the table and the child was OK. It … got your attention. We were fine. We were eating lunch, but we’re usually there at breakfast. Usually we sit on the other side of the restaurant. … The managers of the restaurant were attentive and fast in calling the police. They were right on top of it,” Harmon said.

Thornton said when she initially heard the noise she thought something was coming through the window.

“The reaction of the people at table was shock. It was amazing,” she said.

Both noted they were glad the building’s wall was strong enough to not completely fold. Harmon said the managers at the restaurant noted it was one of their older buildings. He said it appeared the wall was bowed inward. Harmon took photos at the scene on his smartphone.