In an instant, stunned witnesses watched as a pickup truck plowed through a plate glass window into the waiting room of a medical clinic at a strip mall, triggering screams inside and sending debris everywhere.
Three people were killed in Friday’s crash, including the receptionist and a mother and her teenage son. Eight others, including the driver, were injured, police said.
“That truck was flying,” said witness Jimmy Ramsey, who was heading out of a nearby coffee shop when he saw it smash through the store front.
Ramsey, the manager of a dry cleaning store in the strip mall, said he “could see stuff flying everywhere. It was a very hard impact.”
The truck crashed through the front of the building and through the reception area, finally stopping after about 20 to 30 feet, according to Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson.
The dead were identified as 20-year-old receptionist Viviana E. Terrazas, who leaves behind a 1-year-old son; 17-year-old David Rodriguez; and his mother, 43-year-old Janell Lockhart Rodriguez. All were from Santa Fe.
Three of those who were injured remained hospitalized late Friday, two of them in critical condition. The rest were treated and released.
The driver, whose name was not released, was conscious when rescue crews arrived. She was taken to the hospital for a medical evaluation. Authorities do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, but they will do tests to determine if she was under the influence of any intoxicants.
Terrazas’ sister, Judith, said she was told that the driver had a seizure, but Johnson declined to comment on what may have caused the crash.
“That’s still under investigation. We won’t know more until we get the results from the toxicology tests. That could take some time,” he said late Friday. “We just don’t know right now.”
Mother and son killed
The Rodriguezes were at the clinic so David could take a pre-employment drug test. He and his mother were waiting inside while his father and sister were outside.
Terrazas was about an hour away from her usual lunch break when the truck came barreling in, said her sister. “It’s just not right,” Judith Terrazas told Albuquerque television station KOB-TV.
She said her sister was a good mother and had set a good example for her.
Judith Terrazas was among the family members and friends who showed up at the crash site Friday. Some left flowers outside the boarded up clinic and others lit candles and said prayers.
'It was a real loud bang'
Ben Martinez, a physician’s assistant at the clinic, Concentra Medical Centers, said he was working in an exam room when the crash happened just before 10 a.m.
“I thought a plane had crashed into the place,” he said. “It was a real loud bang, like an explosion.”
Johnson said the force of the crash caused the clinic’s ceiling to collapse; glass littered the sidewalk outside.
“People were cut, dripping blood,” said Ramsey, who ran to the crash scene after calling police. “I was shook up. ... This is stuff you see on TV.”