Deadline Miami

Car crashes into Miami sidewalk cafe, injuring at least 10

The scene in front of Lemoni Cafe in Buena Vista, where a car plowed through tables, injuring several people, and crashed into a light pole on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The accident occurred at the corner of NE 2nd Avenue and 46th Street.
The scene in front of Lemoni Cafe in Buena Vista, where a car plowed through tables, injuring several people, and crashed into a light pole on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The accident occurred at the corner of NE 2nd Avenue and 46th Street. Wendy Stephan

A car plowed into the front of a Miami cafe Saturday afternoon, injuring at least 10 people, including two pregnant women.

Miami police and paramedics rushed to the Lemoni Cafe, Northeast 46th Street and Second Avenue in Buena Vista, after a Toyota Camry carrying three people drove into the cafe’s sidewalk seating area.

Laura Prada, a waitress, said the car careened about 10 feet onto the sidewalk shortly before 4 p.m. She said an elderly woman may have broken her foot.

“They drove in at a fast speed,” Prada said.

Fire Rescue spokesman Capt. Ignatius Carroll said 10 people were taken to area hospitals, including three to Ryder Trauma Center.

“All the patients that we transported were able to talk,” Carroll said. “Some people were just getting ready to walk out, so we definitely could have had a lot more injuries.”

Two of those transported were passengers in the vehicle, which witnesses told police had struck a pole before barreling into the strip.

Northeast Second Avenue was shut down in both directions while police investigated the cause of the accident. The driver, who had no apparent injuries, stayed on the scene and talked to police.

The crash comes just two weeks after area residents met with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado to complain about the street construction on Northeast Second Avenue between 40th and 53rd Streets.

The neighborhood surrounding the street is called Buena Vista East. For years, residents have complained that an unfinished utilities construction project left their main thoroughfare in dire, and now dangerous, condition. Residents says the area is covered in potholes, lined with broken sidewalks and has poor lighting.

Wendy Stephan, who has lived in the neighborhood for 19 years, says the city has dragged its feet in completing the construction work.

“We want the project to be completed,” said Stephan, who was president of the Buena Vista East Historic Neighborhood Association from 2004-2007.

Stephan added that Lemoni Cafe is a popular neighborhood restaurant. “We love to go there, but we we always sit inside,” she said. “I had told my family that I did not feel safe sitting out there. You’re too close to the street.”

In an email sent to local elected officials — including Regalado — Saturday afternoon, the neighborhood association decried government inaction after three years of pleas from area residents to fix the avenue.

On today’s crash, the email reads, “you should feel responsible.”

Frank Perez, who lives half a block from where the crash took place, ran to the corner and found people sprawled on the sidewalk, along with overturned planters chairs. “There was a young lady stretched out on the floor who looked like she had pretty serious injuries, she was ... crying, screaming,” she said.

Perez said he, too, refuses to sit outside at the cafe because he thinks it is too dangerous.

“With the speed and condition of that road — there’s no space, nothing to cushion you,” Perez said. “I hate to say it, but I saw this coming. We really are lucky that nobody died.”

Miami Herald staff writer Jordan Levin contributed to this report.

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