Lehigh Valley

Elderly woman dies when car hits building at fairgrounds

Elderly woman killed in accident

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A customer at a popular Allentown restaurant was killed Sunday evening when a car slammed into the building, pinning her against the front façade. 

Three others, including the elderly driver, were hospitalized.

The crash happened around 6:30 p.m. in front of Ritz Barbecue on the Allentown Fairgrounds site at 302 N. 17th Street.

For restaurant workers like Selena Cruz, it was their worst nightmare.

"I heard a screeching noise and she died instantly," said Cruz, who said the inside of the building also incurred damage.

"When he flew backward, somebody screamed and I turned around and he knocked the one lady over and then into the wall where he pinned the other lady," said Donna Tully, who was attending a classic car show in the same parking lot.

The victim was a woman in her early 80s, according to Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim.  He said she lived nearby, but has not released the woman's name yet.

"We're in the preliminary stages of the investigation, but an elderly female was pronounced [dead] at 7:20 this evening," he said.

Cruz said the victim was a regular customer.

"It's just a shock to all of us right now because she was a regular and we knew her, and I don't wish this upon anyone," said Cruz.  "It could have been anyone."

The driver and his passenger went to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, according to Allentown Police.  Witnesses said a second woman was hit in the parking lot and also went to the hospital with several deep cuts.

"We were all crying and it shook us really, really bad because, like I said, it could have been any one of us, because sometimes we go outside to clean," said Cruz.

An Allentown Police accident reconstruction team remained on the scene Sunday night.  Police said a decision on possible charges won't be made until Monday at the earliest.  An autopsy on the victim is tentatively set for Tuesday.

According to Cruz, the restaurant hopes to re-open Monday, after an inspection.

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