"I'm so sad for the people who lost their lives," said Pete Gouskos, owner of the restaurant.
Watch video from WTOP’s partner, NBC Washington of Jane Bloom’s son speaking out after his mom was killed when a driver plowed into an outdoor dining area in Northwest D.C.
Police have identified the two women who died of their injuries after a car plowed through an outdoor seating area at a Chevy Chase, D.C. restaurant on Friday afternoon.
Seventy-three-year-old Terese Dudnick Taffer and 76-year-old Jane Bloom, both residents of Northwest D.C., died after a driver lost control of his SUV and crashed through tables outside Parthenon, a Greek restaurant and lounge near the Maryland state line.
At least nine other people were injured when the crash happened around 12:18 p.m., fire officials said, just as customers were sitting down for lunch. Eight of those were transported to various hospitals. Five were initially listed in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, including the two women who later died. Three others were treated and released on scene.
“I’m so sad for the people who lost their lives,” said Pete Gouskos, owner of the restaurant.
Gouskos told WTOP that he was at a dentist’s appointment when the crash took place, but returned to the restaurant 15 minutes after his son called to tell him what had happened.
“I’ve been here for 33 years,” Gouskos said. “This is like home for everybody here, and it’s pretty sad to have a loss of life.”
According to D.C. police, the elderly driver of a gray 2008 Subaru Forester had exited a parking lot in the 5500 block of Connecticut Avenue at a high rate of speed. The SUV exited the lot moving westbound and continuing to travel south, then northbound on Connecticut Avenue.
The vehicle mounted the west curb in front of storefronts, striking people sitting outside of Parthenon, according to police. After running into a barrier, the SUV came to a stop amid tables and chairs strewed across the sidewalk.
D.C. Fire and EMS personnel responded to the scene and transported eight victims to various hospitals for treatment of their injuries, deeming it a mass casualty incident to bring in additional medical resources.
Gouskos said that the cleanup around his restaurant started Friday afternoon and continued into Saturday. Connecticut Avenue was closed for over six hours as police cleared the wreckage of the car.
Gouskos said he has received a lot of support from the community, several of whom joined the cleanup effort.
“I got at least 1,000 phone calls yesterday,” Gouskos said. “And today, the phone is ringing and people are coming in, and they’re bringing flowers.”
WTOP’s Acacia James and Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.