Virgin Megastore Crash: Eyewitness Account
The incident took place when a big rig clipped a Toyota Camry -- which happened to be 15 feet away from Benjamin Johnson, a Maryland resident in the city for a conference. Johnson and a pal were walking back from the Metreon after watching Black Swan -- but the real show was just beginning.
Along with 20 or so other theater-goers who'd left the late show at the Metreon, Johnson watched a southbound big rig turning right off Stockton onto Market first drift "way too far" into the left lane in order to accommodate its trailer for the hard turn. The trailer bumped the Toyota. And then things went badly.
The driver "evidently saw it coming and tried to avoid it." But she was hit -- and floored the accelerator while turning hard left. "She starts the evasive maneuver right after she's bumped. And as soon as she's bumped she starts a sharp turn and accelerates. There's a little wheelchair ramp there, so it wasn't a super-hard curb to jump," recalls Johnson.
The bystander recalls thinking "Why is she accelerating?" while the event unfolded. But drivers rammed by big rigs may not always react in the textbook fashion. The driver's combination of turning the wheel sharply while gunning the engine led her to make "a 270-degree turn into the storefront, and she continued going until she hit the wall."
The truck driver -- who could face charges of misdemeanor hit and run -- slowed but did not stop. Johnson says he ran into the glass-strewn store to check on the driver. "She's fine. It was a group of four women in the car and they all had shopping bags with them. I saw some stuff online speculating how she must have fallen asleep. It wasn't anything like that."
Johnson notes that he was "surprised how few people ran in there to see if she was hurt. There was a group of about 20 people and most of them took out their phones to take pictures."