Local News

Raleigh outdoor diners recall being hit by car

Posted September 5, 2011 12:27 p.m. EDT
Updated September 6, 2011 7:42 a.m. EDT

— Three church friends had just sat down for lunch at a Cameron Village restaurant Sunday afternoon when a car suddenly crashed into their outdoor table.

Raleigh police said that Betty Jo Boykin Sledge was pulling into a parking space outside the Noodles and Company restaurant when she accelerated, drove over the curb and into the outdoor seating area.

"Everything happened so fast. I didn't actually see the car. I just heard screeching tires, yelling. I think it was the driver," Suzanne Vogel, 31, of Raleigh, said.

"I saw it start to slow down and then speed up, and I knew an instant before it was going to hit us," said Karallen Haire, 31, of Garner. "Then, you know, it hit, and I was flying."

Sledge's 2003 gold Lexus sedan struck Vogel, Haire and their friend, Judith Igelman, at 10 mph, tossing them from their seats, then struck the restaurant.

Vogel, 31, of Raleigh, and Karallen "Rella" Haire, 31, of Garner, suffered minor cuts and bruises. They were treated and released from WakeMed.

Igelman, 68, of Wake Forest, remained in intensive care at WakeMed Monday, but her condition had improved to fair, a hospital representative said.

Sledge, 55, of Raleigh, was treated and released from Rex Hospital. Two passengers in her car weren't injured.

It's unclear what caused Sledge to lose control of her car and jump the curb.

"She kept saying, 'I tried to stop. I tried to stop.' (She was) very upset," Vogel said. "I can't imagine being in that situation – just feeling like you've lost control of my car, and what has happened? What did I do?"

The wreck report stated that Sledge was in apparently normal physical condition and that drugs or alcohol were not suspected to be factors in the incident. She did not respond to messages left by WRAL News Monday.

Raleigh police said they would consult with the Wake County District Attorney's Office to see whether charges should be filed.

Some Cameron Village shoppers said they'd like more done to protect pedestrians from vehicles.

"I think having some sort of barrier, maybe having higher curbs would definitely make people feel safer while dining outside," shopper Patrick Keeley said.

Whatever the cause, Vogel said she has no hard feelings toward Sledge.

"It could have happened to anybody, and I don't want her to carry this around feeling terrible about it," Vogel said.

Haire agreed that Sledge "didn't intend to hurt anybody."