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Close call: Car narrowly misses Metro Diner in San Marco

Concrete barriers erected after April's collision made the difference

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Metro Diner's owners had concrete barriers installed outside the San Marco location after a car plowed into the restaurant four months ago. It's a good thing they did because those barriers are credited with protecting customers from another collision on Tuesday.

Surveillance shows said the close call happened just before 11 a.m. when a Kia Sportage and Saturn sedan collided near Hendricks Avenue and Inwood Terrace. The impact sent the Saturn careening toward the restaurant, but the new barriers halted the vehicle before it reached the outdoor patio where a mother and her child sat.

Even though it's not the first time a crash has happened nearby, employees were not expecting it.

"Of course, we're always involved. They're trying to make our diner into a drive-through," said manager Kayleigh Clarizio. "It could have been deadly."

Across the street from Metro Diner sits the Antique Fox. Manager Andy Baker was helping a customer when the crash occurred. Both ran outside to help and called 911.

"There were short breaks then you hear it hit. 'Bang. Bang.' I went outside and the Saturn was up against the post at the Metro Diner,'" Baker said. "I'm thankful it wasn't any worse for them and I'm thankful they didn't come through my window."

Fortunately, the drivers were OK.

"I just wanted to make sure she didn’t need any medical assistance, but she was stable and talking with them and, obviously, she was very shocked, but they were able to get her out of the car safely," said Dr. Richard Mullens, who ran to help the driver of the car that hit the barriers. "The side streets are somewhat blocked by the closeness of the buildings to Hendricks Avenue, so I think there is a bit of a blind spot for drivers."

The near-miss reminded employees of the April 8 crash. In that case, a Toyota Camry burst into the restaurant after its driver swerved to avoid another vehicle on Hendricks Avenue. It was after hours, but damage left behind required costly repairs and forced the eatery to close its doors for a week.

That's why Metro Diner installed the concrete pillars -- to protect its people and property. Even though they worked as intended, the incident still has some people wondering whether more needs to be done to make the intersection safer.

"Maybe something needs to happen," Clarizio said. "I don't know what's the answer."


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