Video report by Crystal Hall, Fox CT
Text by Denise Buffa, The Hartford Courant
FARMINGTON — A driver unwittingly turned a restaurant into a drive-through Saturday evening when his truck crashed into the building, scattering and knocking down a family of 12 but leaving them with only minor injuries.
The truck slammed into the Galleria Restaurant at 2 Spring St. around 5:30 p.m., breaking the wall and window, and scattering the family that had just ordered dinner for a birthday party, restaurant owner Sam Gjonbalaj said in an interview. Some of the people ended up on the ground, he said.
The pickup’s nose ended up inside the establishment, Gjonbalaj said.
“By looking at the truck and everything and where they were sitting, it’s amazing that nobody got hurt bad,” he said.
The family left without eating, and the restaurant will close indefinitely for repairs, Gjonbalaj said.
The driver of the truck did not appear to be injured, according to Gjonbalaj, who could not say for certain whether the person had been taken to a hospital. Police, firefighters and an ambulance were at the scene.
“It was an older man,” Gjonbalaj said of the driver. “He said his foot slipped from brake to gas.”
Farmington Police said the driver of the truck was an 86-year-old man. The driver’s liscense has been siezed, according to Lt. Colin Ryan.
The owner said he was walking toward the table to check on the group — including grandparents and grandchildren — when the truck hit the wall, shocking him and his guests, who had little time to react.
“Everybody panicked,” Gjonbalaj said. “It was a loud explosion when he hit, but thank God they’re OK.”
After the crash ended, everybody looked around to make sure everyone else was accounted for, Gjonbalaj said. No one was missing — and all were in pretty good shape considering the crash, Gjonbalaj said.
“They didn’t get hurt bad. They got little scratches,” he said.
“I said, ‘Sorry that happened,’ and I’m glad it didn’t happen worse because it could’ve been much worse.”
The town’s building inspector said the restaurant was structurally unsafe and the restaurant was closed pending repair, according to Ryan.