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Car slams into patio in front of Little Italy restaurant

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Posted at 9:27 AM, Feb 03, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A car crashed into a parklet in front of a Little Italy restaurant Wednesday evening, leading to an arrest but no reported injuries.

The collision happened around 8:20 p.m. outside of Sorrento Ristorante, a restaurant at 1646 India Street.

Michele Auriemma, the manager of Sorrento, told ABC 10News that a driver slammed into a parked car, causing the parked car to crash into the patio area. A concrete flower pot used as a barrier on the edge of the parklet helped slow the car's momentum.

San Diego Police said the driver, a man in his 20s, tried to flee the scene following the wreck. However, several customers held him down until officers arrived.

The driver, who was not identified, was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Auriemma said he's seen multiple close calls involving cars, and he suggested that the City of San Diego close India Street to vehicles, along the lines of Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp District.

"They speed through and sometimes, just for a hair, they didn't catch the patio," Auriemma said. "It's not the first time."

Marco Li Mandri, chief executive administrator for the Little Italy Association, said the safety system worked with the concrete planters acting as barriers.

"I think if you asked a lot of the restaurants, would they like to see less people driving on India Street, they'd say no," he said.

Li Mandri noted the need for the street's parking spaces and valet program, and asked drivers to be mindful of pedestrians and outdoor diners.

In a statement, the city said the safety of streetaries is its top priority when approving applications and that it applies all local, state and federal laws in doing so.

"Among these stringent measures are limiting the placement of the outdoor operations to streets with speed limits less than 30 miles per hour, maintaining clear visibility for oncoming traffic, installing adequate traffic barriers and limiting operating hours," the city said. "As to the permanent closure of any City of San Diego street segment, such measure would require City Council approval and would only be possible if certain conditions apply. Temporary street closures for special events would require the applicant to apply for a Special Events Permit."