SUV crashes into Pizza Hut in Riverhead, 3 people injured

05/15/2015 6:41 PM |

An SUV crashed into the Pizza Hut on Route 58 Friday afternoon. (Credit: Manny Velasquez)

An SUV crashed into the Pizza Hut on Route 58 Friday afternoon. (Credit: Manny Velasquez)

Manny Velazquez was just starting to eat his pepperoni pizza when an SUV came flying through the wall behind him.

“I heard this ‘Pow,’ ” he said. “I looked to the right, saw the wall and didn’t realize what was going on. It didn’t register at first.”

It was only when his family — there celebrating his daughter’s place on the charter school honor roll — yelled at him to get out of the building did Mr. Velazquez understand: a Nissan Pathfinder SUV had just crashed into the building, missing him by a few yards.

Riverhead police said the SUV crashed into two vehicles, then barreled into the Pizza Hut near the Route 58 traffic circle Friday afternoon, sending the driver and two patrons to the hospital, Riverhead police and witnesses said.

The crash happened about 4:20 p.m., when a woman driving an SUV south on Roanoke Avenue collided with a PT Cruiser headed east on Route 58.

Witness Louie Strittmatter, who was at the 7-Eleven nearby, said the driver of the PT Cruiser didn’t yield as he entered the circle and crashed into the SUV.

The SUV then plowed into a truck headed north before jumping the curb, sideswiping Mr. Velazquez’s Scion sedan and striking the building near the front entrance.

“She was totally airborne,” Mr. Strittmatter said.

Two customers sitting in a booth at the time of the crash suffered minor injuries from flying debris, according to police at the scene. The driver also suffered “neck and back” injuries, though they weren’t considered to be serious.

“It sounded like a big pop,” said Mr. Velasquez. “Not an explosion or anything.”

Police are saying the incident was an accident and made no arrests. Fire Marshal Craig Zitek said the restaurant will have to remain closed as the integrity of the entrance is now “questionable.”

As crews towed the SUV away, Mr. Velaquez was left standing outside the restaurant next to his now-damaged car, grateful his family was safe, but bemoaning his poor luck.

Hours before eating at Pizza Hut, he had picked up his car — a limited edition Scion xD — from the auto shop.

“I just got it back today but then this just happened,” he said. “I don’t want to pay this deductible.”

He never even finished his pizza.

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