He said four of those hospitalized were in critical condition and three other people were treated for minor injuries at the scene.
Police said the crash occurred about 12:15 pm, the height of the lunch hour, in the 5500 block of Connecticut Avenue NW. The street is lined with restaurants and shops and is typically crowded with vehicles and pedestrians. Fire officials said there was no structural damage to the restaurant, nobody was trapped.
A DC police spokesman said there is no indication the crash was intentional, and it is being investigated as an accident. Fire officials said the crash happened at the Parthenon restaurant and an adjoining lounge. The Parthenon, a Greek restaurant, is recognizable by its signature blue-and-white awning that juts out onto the sidewalk.
The SUV ended up diagonal on the wide sidewalk, its back end partially under the awning. It appeared to have slammed into the doorway of a dry cleaning shop, with broken potted plants and chairs scattered about.
Becky Pulles and Christian Borjas were seated at a table outside a Starbucks shop, about 75 feet from the Parthenon. They saw a gray SUV crossing Connecticut Avenue and accelerating. The two could hear the engine gunning.
“It suddenly accelerated,” Pulles said. “It looked like someone hit the accelerator instantly. It was going super-fast, like police-car fast. ”
The SUV jumped over a curb, went in between columns of the Parthenon Restaurant’s outdoor awning, and plowed into people, including those seated at tables, they said.
“It was horrific,” Pulles said.
Borjas, a nurse from California who is temporarily working in the area, rushed over. He said that he and several others lifted the SUV off an injured woman, and helped pull her out.
Borjas said he helped open the door for the driver, who he said appeared to be about 80.
“He walked out. He was scared. You could tell it was not intentional, ”Borjas said. Police confirmed the driver of the SUV was elderly.
“Connecticut Avenue is where we come to work and play and live,” said Lisa Gore, vice chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for Chevy Chase. “My heart goes out to the community. We pray for everyone who is involved. ”
Emily Davies contributed to this report.