Donny Nickull was having coffee in the Tim Hortons at Brooks Landing shopping centre Thursday morning when he heard a bang and looked up to witness carnage unfold before his eyes.
At about 8:40 a.m. a Nissan Versa hatchback crossed Departure Bay Road, jumped a curb, struck a parked a Ford Ranger pickup with enough momentum to tear free the truck’s rear axel and slam it into a parked Honda Element SUV and then continued to careen across the parking lot.
“I heard the bang just as I saw it,” Nickull said. “I was sitting right there having coffee looking right out the window… that guy come from way out there and, man, he was way up in the air doing flip overs. There was stuff flying everywhere.”
A split second later the mangled Nissan hit the building and came to rest on its roof with its driver, an 84-year-old man, trapped inside.
“The building shook so violently they thought a bomb had gone off out in the parking lot,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.
A dog riding in the car fled the wreckage, but was caught and looked after by witnesses.
Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to help free the driver from his vehicle. He was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital with a head injury, but was conscious and communicating with emergency personnel when he was removed from his car.
RCMP traffic analysts are continuing their investigation into what caused the car to go out of control and are looking into the possibility a medical condition might have led to the crash.
Had the crash happened just a few minutes earlier, when cars for the restaurant’s drive-thru were lined up across the parking lot, the situation could have turned much worse.
“He’s lucky because minutes before the lineup was backed out here. With people walking and parking, it could’ve been really bad,” Nickull said.