Woman drives into crowd outside homeless shelter

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Five people are in the hospital tonight, one in critical condition. This, after a driver slams her car into a crowd of people. It happened early this morning outside the Firehouse Shelter on 3rd Avenue North.

WIAT 42 NEWS spoke with police and they tell us although the driver did run a red light, they have ruled this a horrific accident and will not be filing charges against the driver.

“You see all this debris right here” says Jeremie Bryant, a Firehouse client and witness to the accident. “That’s basically where they hit.”

He was lucky this morning. He was inside the shelter when he heard the horrific screech and crash followed by screaming.

“They were standing outside after attending a meeting when a car ran a red light and hit them,” claims Firehouse Shelter Executive Director Anna Darden Wright.

Investigators say a woman in her sixties was behind the wheel of a red Chevy sedan and she struck a van before driving onto the sidewalk and into a crowd of men standing outside the shelter.

“It was complete chaos,” says Wright. “A lot of screaming. We had other gentlemen that witnessed this event. We had people from all our different housing programs including our housing for people with mental illness and they were very severely injured.”

Everyone rushed to help, even coming to the aid of the woman who caused the accident.

“She was distraught,” claims Bryant. “She was shaken up. You could tell visibly because the airbag had deployed and her car was and she had people laying around with blood. It wasn’t the greatest of situations.”

But it’s one Anne Wright says is common.

“I’ve seen so many people run these lights,” sighs Wright. “We had a client that was actually hit on his motorcycle not to terribly long ago by someone who was running these lights.”

We did some checking with Birmingham Police and they tell WIAT 42 NEWS 3rd Avenue North is a pretty major thoroughfare especially coming from Interstate 65. But in all of 2014 there’s only been three citations and one accident, until today.

However today may have just been a wakeup call for everyone.

“Safety is always our first priority,” says Wright. “We do ask the gentlemen to stay close to the building as possible.”

One of the people taken to the hospital was also the driver of the car. We still don’t know what caused her to run the red light.

although the accident happened in front of the shelter and blocked the door,  the shelter remained open. Clients simply used the back entrance to continue life skills classes and meetings.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 NEWS

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