SAN DIEGO - A 70-year-old man arriving at a Kearny Mesa medical center Wednesday lost control of his car, which crashed into two buildings at high speed and wound up suspended precariously over an outdoor stairwell.
The motorist was trying to get a parking voucher at a booth in front of the complex in the 7900 block of Frost Street about 9:45 a.m. when his late-model maroon Toyota Camry began rolling, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The man then apparently "got a little disoriented" and stepped on the accelerator, sending the sedan careening "like a rocket" through a gate arm, over a curb, through a metal guardrail and into a medical building, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said.
The driver, who was conscious and somewhat stunned, was anxious as he sat behind the wheel.
Jody Taylor was on her way to an appointment when the car just missed her.
"He just flew straight through non-stop and hit," said Taylor. "Once he hit, he tried to get out of the car so I went behind him and told him to look at me in the mirror… kept him focused, kept him in the car because he was trying to get out."
The car was left hanging over a set of concrete steps, wedged between the structure it rammed and a parking garage on the other side of the stairwell. Emergency personnel arrived to find the driver trying to climb out of the car, and they directed him to stay put while they evaluated the hazardous situation, according to Luque.
The crews shored up the damaged car to make sure it was stable before removing the driver on a backboard. The entire process took about 20 minutes.
Though the man appeared unhurt, he was taken to nearby Sharp Memorial Hospital for an evaluation. He was released a short time later and picked up by his daughter, Luque said.
The managers of the complex closed the damaged medical building and brought in an engineer to assess the extent of damage sustained in the accident.
The driver and everyone else around the scene of the crash were fortunate to have avoided serious injury, the spokesman noted.
"Through the grace of God and some good luck, the car did not go down when it jumped the area," Luque said. "It went straight across."
There was a bit of structural damage below, but it was insignificant compared to what might have been.
Taylor worked as an emergency medical technician for 13 years, so she was well prepared for her role in this.
A fortunate irony is the fact she herself was not hurt.
"I was crossing the street, tripped and fell," said Taylor. "Who knew? That probably saved me.
That might have saved the driver too, since Taylor kept him inside the car.