La Jolla crash victim details scene
By Dave Schwab
Staff WriterBird Rock resident Sherry Macelli described the scene at Cass Street Cafe when a suspected drunk driver’s car barreled through the front of the restaurant as she and her husband sat down to eat.
They were seated near the window fronting the parking lot, she said, when “we heard a girl’s scream outside.”
The pair turned to look and “we both saw a brown sedan barreling toward us,” she said. “My husband yelled, ‘Get out of the way.’ ”
Macelli said she went to the left and her husband Jeff went to the right. When they came to, Macelli said the car was completely inside the restaurant.
The couple and three teenagers were injured when the 66-year-old driver - arrested on three counts of suspicion of felony drunk driving - ran up onto the sidewalk and then crashed into the eatery at 5550 La Jolla Boulevard near the roundabout at Forward Street.
Macelli said her husband sustained a serious cut to his forehead and that she had been banged up and bruised, but not seriously injured. She added he was on a blood thinner due to previous surgery and was taken to a hospital to make sure there were no medical complications.
The three teen crash victims were 14-year-old Alani Aguerre, the daughter of Santiago Aguerre who co-founded Reef Sandals; Miles Polger; and Ian Brininstool, a professional actor who has performed in musical productions since age 4. His credits include the San Diego Children’s Choir, San Diego Junior Theatre, La Jolla Stage Company, Starlight Theatre and Lamb’s Players Theatre. He’s also appeared in TV episodes of “Veronica Mars.”
Details on his and Polger’s condition were not available.
Bird Rock resident Maile Aguerre, the aunt of crash victim Alani Aguerre, said the young woman was seriously injured. “She has multiple fractures of many bones in her body,” she said. “She broke at least one of her arms in a couple of places. She’s got a broken pelvis and a broken leg.”
Maile Aguerre said Alani Aguerre went through surgery all night and has two more scheduled, but added, “She is alive. She was talking yesterday.”
This afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Santiago Aguerre said of his injured daughter at Scripps Hospital, “She’s out of the critical stage and is stable.”
He said his daughter had been on the roof of the car after being struck by the car when it crashed through the restaurant’s window causing her to sustain multiple lacerations from broken glass in addition to her other injuries.
Aguerre said his daughter is an honors student at The Bishop’s School who is “sweet and nice.”
The problem with vagrants is getting worse in Bird Rock and elsewhere in La Jolla, said Santiago Aguerre, adding he hopes this incident is a wake-up call to the community that something more needs to be done to prevent people with substance abuse problems from getting behind the wheel of a car. “We know this is going on, we can see it right in front of our eyes,” he said. “Are we just going to look away one more time?”
Macelli said when she got up after the car crashed through the restaurant window that she “went around to the front of the car. I saw a girl pinned face down on the ground, and the axle of the car was on her shoulders. I believe she was outside and got dragged in through the window.”
Macelli said the female crash victim was crying and moaning “so I knew she was not dead - thank God.”
Lt. Andra Brown of the San Diego Police Department identified the driver of the vehicle as 66-year-old Ronald Troyer.
Brown said five young people were walking together north on the sidewalk when Troyer, driving southbound in a large Chrysler sedan, “lost control and drove up on the sidewalk.”
Brown said the car struck three of the teenagers, then traveled 60-plus feet into Cass Street Cafe at 5550 La Jolla Blvd.
San Diego Police Detective John Letteri said that Troyer “was placed under arrest and transported by medics to Sharp Hospital for evaluation.”
Brown said Troyer was driving on a suspended license and has a history of substance abuse.
The car also struck an SDG&E transformer, which caused a power outage affecting about 90 customers.