Brothers Killed After Elderly Driver Plows Through Hardee's

Two siblings are dead after an elderly driver crashed their car into the side of a restaurant early Sunday morning.

The fatal accident took place at a Hardee's location in Wilson, North Carolina. Speaking with witnesses, WRAL News reported that an SUV, driven by 78-year-old Jesse Lawrence, careened over a busy road, narrowly avoiding traffic, and hit the right side of the fast food restaurant, a little before 10 a.m.

Lawrence reportedly plowed through two front windows and collided into the two brothers who were visiting the restaurant. The younger brother, 58-year-old Christopher Ruffin, was pronounced dead at the scene by authorities. The older sibling, 62-year-old Clay Ruffin, was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, but ultimately died from his injuries.

Employees at the restaurant explained the scene to WRAL, saying that the brothers were sitting and eating breakfast when the accident occurred. A drive-thru customer, Gabriela Palacios Alonzo, also witnessed the scene, first being alerted to it by the screams of an employee.

car crash kills brothers
Two brothers were killed when an elderly driver crashed into the side of a fast food restaurant on Sunday. Above, a representational shot of crime scene tape near the scene of a car accident. John Lamparski/Getty Images

"I heard the young lady screaming from the drive-thru and I look in the mirror and I just see glass everywhere," Alonzo said. "A Black male [was] trying to get up. He wasn't able to. He was outside on the sidewalk. He was in a bad state."

A young boy at the restaurant was also injured, according to employees. The child became trapped underneath the vehicle after it plowed into the building and seemed to suffer numerous cuts. His father had been with him, but was in the bathroom initially.

"When he came out of the bathroom and went through all the glass...he found and pulled the boy from underneath the car," an unnamed employee told WRAL. "The little boy was screaming and hollering because he was scared and had cuts on the top of his head."

Lawrence was reportedly taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and has since been released. The extent of the injuries he sustained in the crash is unknown, and it is also unknown if he will face any charges. According to WRAL, officers are still investigating the accident, but don't believe a medical issue or impairment was the cause of the crash.

Newsweek reached out to the Wilson Police Department for comment.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the two customers who died as the result of the vehicle which crashed into the dining area," Hardee's said in a statement sent to outlets like WRAL. "We also are saddened for our restaurant employees who were working during the tragic incident and are taking steps to support them."

Wilson has a population of nearly 50,000 and is located roughly 50 miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina.

A similar incident took place in March, when an elderly driver crashed an SUV into the Parthenon Restaurant & Chevy Chase Lounge in Washington, D.C., killing two women and injuring eight other people.

"There was no indication that this was intentional," Duncan Bedlion, commander of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department's second district, said in a statement following the accident. "Unfortunately...the vehicle that was involved was operated by a person who lost control."