PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio - Charges are pending against the elderly driver who plowed across an outdoor dance floor, injuring eight people Sunday evening. The incident was caught on surveillance video recorded by a camera at the neighboring Parma Heights Police Department.
The incident occurred around 7 p.m. in the parking lot between the police station and Greenbrier Commons, where a city-sponsored summer concert had drawn about 150 people, according to police. Three victims remained hospitalized at MetroHealth Medical Center Monday afternoon, with one woman listed in critical condition.
"By the time I realized it was coming, it was over," said Ken Wadsworth, 76, of Brooklyn, who was dancing with friends. "I felt like I was in an undertow on a beach, and the undertow is taking you and rolling you in the sand."
He asked for prayers for his girlfriend, Nancy Gielas, 68, who was in intensive care and listed in critical condition Monday.
Police said the 74 year-old driver, who has not been identified, was backing a 2009 Nissan Sentra out of a parking spot when she hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. Surveillance footage shows the vehicle did a full 360 in reverse, crashing through the barricaded dance floor with about a dozen people on it, and into a utility pole and another car, according to investigators.
"She was very shaken up," Parma Heights Police Sgt. Steve Scharschmidt said of the driver. "I don't think it's a medical condition. She did say that she wasn't feeling well, that's why she left a bit early but... it just appears it was a terrible accident."
Spray paint from a crash investigation team marked the section of the parking lot where it happened. Scharschmidt said an officer heard screams and was able to get help to the scene quickly.
"Our officer was there within seconds, and he was calling for squads," Scharschmidt said.
Scharschmidt said the driver's vehicle was impounded while investigators made sure it didn't have a mechanical malfunction. He said the driver had a valid driver's license, and charges would be forthcoming depending on the condition of the victims.