Surveillance video obtained by NBC 7 offers a new vantage point of the moment an out-of-control stolen car smashed into a restaurant on Main Street in El Cajon Wednesday afternoon.
The stolen Lexus sedan went through the front windows of Ali Baba Mediterranean restaurant near Avocado Avenue just before 1 p.m. A camera fixed on the intersection from the opposite corner of the restaurant shows the driver back out of the gaping hole his car had punched in the building and fled south.
It also showed people rushing to help, and others just trying to get out of the way.
The El Cajon Police Department found the battered suspect car abandoned near the intersection of Taft and Pauline Avenues about a mile-and-a-half away, but the suspect could not be found.
Car Slams Into El Cajon Restaurant
NBC 7's Dave Summers reports on the damage done to an El Cajon restaurant when a car slammed into its dining area.(Published Thursday, March 14, 2019)
The owner of Ali Baba, Thair Behnan, told NBC 7 police officers were right across the street when the crash happened.
Behnan said luckily the driver smashed into the banquet room and not the dining room right next to it. No Injuries were reported.
Police say the driver was likely going to fast while turning left onto Main Street from Ballantyne and lost control. While Behnan's wife was documenting the damage to the building on her cell phone, another car came speeding around the bend and nearly gave the restaurant a second hole.
"I suddenly hear some fast car moving like crazy and boom,” Behnan’s wife said.
Then on Thursday, while officers were investigating the crash, a truck described by police as a grey Dodge Ram 1500 apparently lost control and hit a fire hydrant near a 7-Eleven across the street.
The collision caused a two-story geyser to spray into the air. That driver also fled north on Ballentyne Avenue.
The intersection of Ballentyne and Main was shut down due to flooding in the midst of evening commute.
Behnan called Wednesday’s accident the worst he’s seen in the 17 years he has operated Ali Baba. There were no injuries, so Behnan is counting his blessings.
"Everyone is safe,” he said. “This can be repaired and the building is insured."
City engineers were scheduled to assess the damage to Ali Baba on Thursday and could possibly shut the restaurant down until necessary repairs are made.
No other information was available.
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