BRIDGEPORT -- Five people were hospitalized Friday afternoon when a Honda sedan careened through the side doors of a market on East Main Street, a fire department spokesman said.
Assistant Fire Chief Manuel Firpi said the crash happened around 3:30 p.m. at the Compare Foods supermarket, where the driver of the car -- Juan Irizarry, of Boston Avenue -- lost control as he was trying to park and plowed through the sliding entrance door, hitting three people, including one who was thrown back into the vestibule area and briefly pinned under the car.
A passenger in the car was also hospitalized.
None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening, Firpi said. By about 4 p.m., all of the car's occupants had been transported to local hospitals. Police didn't immediately release the names of the driver or any of the victims Friday.
"All of a sudden I saw the car go flying toward the door," Jose Martinez, 34, said. "People were trying to get out of the way, but they couldn't."
A store employee, who didn't want to give her name, said she was in an upstairs office when she heard a banging sound and initially thought it was gunfire. When she ran downstairs, she saw the wreckage.
"I've never seen anything like this," Angela Gutierrez said. "I couldn't believe it when I saw the car in the store. It's like a movie."
It was a chaotic scene as people inside the store and outside ran up to the doors to see the crashed car.
"With so many people, the first thing you have to do is remove the crowd from the scene," Firpi said. "That way you can go in there and see what's going on."
Surveillance video footage from inside the store shows the car as the driver attempts to park in a handicapped spot. He told police he then made the mistake of hitting the accelerator instead of the brake, sending the car speeding sharply to the right, knocking into a concrete post holding up a handicap parking sign and then through the double doors.
The video shows the car striking two people outside the store, dragging one inside. A woman who was just walking out of the store flipped over the car's hood and roof, landing next to the car. Firpi said the victims complained of injuries typically seen in car accidents, such as neck, back, hip and shoulder pain.
The driver of the car, Irizarry, was trapped in the car and needed to be extricated by firefighters. Firpi said the driver was pulled out of the car about 15 minutes after the crash.
"We have a lot of experts and our people are well trained," Firpi said. "Heavy rescue, truck companies, rescue companies, they did their job as they are trained to do."
The crash scattered newspapers and other debris around the entrance area. The doors to the building were destroyed by the crash but Firpi said he doesn't believe there was any other damage to the building. The city building department responded to the scene to evaluate the structure.
Firefighters assessed the scene to ensure that it was safe before the car was removed by a tow truck, Firpi said.
"When they pull it out, we don't want anything to blow up in there," he said.
The store remained open while rescue crews tended to the victims.
The Compare Food's store is at 1050 East Main St., near the intersection of East Main and Arctic Street.
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