Wilson, North Carolina – The Wilson Police Department said two brothers were killed Sunday after an SUV crashed into a Hardee’s on Forest Hills Road.
Police say Jesse Lawrence of Wilson, 78, crashed an SUV into the restaurant around 9:45 a.m. Witnesses told WRAL News that Lawrence drove through the busy Forest Hills road, narrowly missing traffic.
The right side of the restaurant disappeared completely after Lawrence’s vehicle drove through the front windows, hitting two brothers who were inside the business.
Christopher Ruffin, 58, was pronounced dead at the scene while his 62-year-old brother Clay Ruffin was taken to hospital where he later died.
An employee told WRAL News that the two brothers were sitting down and having breakfast when it all happened.
Gabriela Palacios Alonzo was driving at Hardee’s when she heard an employee screaming.
“I heard the young woman screaming from the drive-thru and I look in the mirror and just see glass everywhere,” Alonzo said.
Alonzo approached the scene and was horrified by what she saw.
“A black man [was] trying to get up. He couldn’t,” Alonzo said. “He was outside on the sidewalk. He was in a bad state. »
A Hardee employee who was working at the time said there was also a young boy who ended up under the SUV while his father was in the bathroom.
“When he came out of the bathroom and went through all the windows…he found and pulled the boy under the car,” the employee said. “The little boy was screaming and screaming because he was scared and had cuts on the top of his head.
The employee said the impact was so powerful there was glass on the counter and pieces of the building in the lobby.
Lawrence was also taken to hospital where he was treated and released. The extent of Lawrence’s injuries is unknown at this time.
Hardee’s franchise operator, Boddie-Noell Enterprises, told WRAL News he was “shocked and saddened” by the incident.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the two customers who died in the crash of the vehicle in the dining room,” the company said. “We are also saddened for our restaurant workers who were working during the tragic incident and are taking action to support them.”
The company said it brought in an outside adviser to be available to employees. The restaurant will also remain closed while the police investigation continues.
Police said officers are still investigating the incident, but do not believe the accident was the result of a medical condition or disability.
It is unclear whether Lawrence has been charged or if charges will be filed.
Police have not said at this time if there were any other injuries.
The Wilson Police Department encourages anyone with information regarding this case to contact the Wilson Police Department at 252-399-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 252-243-2255.