A scary scene unfolded on Manhattan streets Wednesday afternoon as a drunken driver pulling out a parking garage plowed through an outdoor dining area and nearly crashed into the restaurant, police said.
The car came bursting out of the Enterprise rental garage on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village after 4 p.m., video showed, and was trying to make a right turn after narrowly missing three pedestrians on the sidewalk. But instead of turning, the out-of-control black Mercedes-Benz sped across the street, going right through the canopied outdoor dining area outside the Cuba restaurant.
The car thankfully came to a stop just a couple feet from the front entrance of the restaurant, where staff and patrons were inside.
"We heard a big sound, it was like a bomb ... we heard also screaming because we had two customers that were yelling," said Viviana Borda, a manager at the restaurant at the time of the crash. "When we turn around, we saw the car that had just drove through."
Borda said the outside seating area was fortunately empty, but those seated inside ran all the way back to the bathroom, fearing the car was going to crash further inside.
"We just were screaming, yelling. Everyone was yelling, and we were asking each other if everyone was OK. The customer was saying just call 911," Borda said.
Police said the driver, 61-year-old Eliot Kurland, was drunk while behind the wheel. The Manhattan resident was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired. It was not clear if he had hired an attorney.
No one was hurt, according to police, apart from the driver who was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Repair work was already underway at the restaurant, with the owners saying they have no idea when it will be finished or how many thousands of dollars it will cost to be able to reopen — during a year when finances are tough enough.
"It's been very difficult, yes, because especially when they decided to open inside, most of the customers wanted to sit outside because they're afraid of the COVID. So now this happens," Borda said.