Woman injures dozens as car ploughs into crowd

Last updated 11:10 17/06/2012

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A 63-year-old woman inexplicably drove her car into a crowded town square in northwest Ohio and struck bystanders, sending some through the air and pinning others under the car until freed when bystanders lifted the vehicle, authorities and witnesses said.

About 30 people were injured. Some suffered serious injuries to their legs, heads and necks, none of them life-threatening, police said. All but four have been released from hospital, a spokeswoman said. At least one other person was taken to another hospital.

The chaotic scene unfolded Friday night (Saturday morning, NZ time) in Lima, where more than 1000 people had gathered for a weekly community event featuring live music. A witness said the woman appeared disoriented.

"We were packed," said Andrea Scheckelhoss, who was working in a beer truck at the event. "This was probably one of our busiest nights."

Scheckelhoss said people were trying to get their last round of beer for the night when she saw the small, four-door vehicle come from her right and plow through the crowd. About 50 people were in and around its path.

"I could hear the people hitting against the car," the 25-year-old Scheckelhoss said. "There were shoes flying. I could see people tumbled over. It was just so disturbing."

Scheckelhoss, one of the first people to dial 911, said the woman had a white dog in the back seat. "I remember looking at the woman's face," she said. "She looked disoriented."

Lima Police Detective Steve Stechschulte said the Lima-area woman, who police would not identify, probably drove the car about 15 metres at about 35kmh. Tyre marks show the car's destructive path, including on a sidewalk and mulch-filled flower bed.

Stechschulte said officials were still investigating the cause of the crash. He said the woman was not injured and was released pending further investigation. She was co-operating with officers, he said.

Todd Truesdale, the fire chief for Shawnee Township, was at the event with his wife and some friends. He said he had his back turned to the accident when he heard a loud scream and turned around.

"I saw two people go up the air, and I knew it was a car," he said. "I couldn't see it, but I heard the revving of the engine."

Finally, the car struck an old sculpture in the square, witnesses say, then came to a stop with its windshield shattered. Those nearby picked it up to free victims who were trapped.

Truesdale, who said the car came to rest right beside him, began to help local responders.

"Everyone was trying to help," he said. "It was tragic, but it was nice to see the community come together."

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Lima is about 120km south of Toledo.

- AP

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