A person was crushed to death and three others were left fighting for their lives Monday after an out-of-control truck crashed into a busy grocery-store parking lot.
The unloaded truck, a large debris hauler, appeared to have experienced a brake failure or mechanical problem as it drove east down a hill on 43rd Avenue, according to San Mateo police Capt. Kevin Raffaelli. It was coming from a nearby construction site.
About 1:15 p.m., the truck, “unable to stop for the stop sign,” tore across Olympic Avenue at the end of 43rd Avenue and collided with a sport utility vehicle, according to Raffaelli.
The truck — now dragging the SUV — then careened about 100 feet past the T-intersection and through a Mollie Stone’s parking lot, hitting a pedestrian and striking an additional “eight or nine” vehicles, Raffaelli said.
One person, who was crushed inside a car, died at the scene, according to Raffaelli. Another person was cut free from a car using the Jaws of Life and flown to Stanford Medical Center in critical condition, according to police.
Three people were taken to Stanford Medical Center for treatment, including the injured pedestrian and the driver of the SUV, all of whom were in critical condition.
The parking lot became a sea of twisted and dented cars after the freak accident, according to reports. Onlookers raced to pull victims from the wreckage before authorities arrived, according to witnesses.
“Some people were trying to get the people out, but they couldn’t,” said Tim Tan, who works at Uncle Chen’s restaurant across the street from Mollie Stone’s.
Witnesses said a victim who was airlifted from the scene was a pregnant woman and that a boy who was in the car with her died. San Mateo resident Damian Kozul said the boy was tangled up in his seatbelt, which appeared to be strangling him.
“The kid couldn’t get out,” Tan said. “It was terrible.”
People who appeared to be bereaved relatives arriving at the scene cried out “It’s Tyler! It’s Tyler!” and were quickly ushered behind police lines.
However, neither police nor the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office would confirm the identity of the deceased victim Monday night.
The truck driver, who was not injured, cooperated with authorities and was not facing charges Monday, according to Raffaelli. The truck will be impounded for investigation, he said.
The truck bore the logo of Century Roof Tile. Officials at the Hayward-based company did not return calls seeking comment
Examiner Staff Writer Mike Rosenberg contributed to this report.