Woman dead and five injured after car hits Costa coffee shop
A woman in her 70s has died and five other people are injured, four seriously, after a car ploughed into a Costa coffee shop.
The incident happened in Westerham, near Sevenoaks in Kent, shortly before 10.30am, Kent Police said.
@robbosimmo We’re working w/ emergency services to offer all possible support. Thoughts are with families affected at this difficult time— Costa Coffee (@CostaCoffee) December 24, 2015
Pictures on social media showed an Audi embedded in the front of the cafe and a host of ambulances and fire engines at the scene in The Green.
Sally Pendleton said she walked past the scene minutes after the crash on her way to church with her grandmother and uncle.
She told BBC News: "There were about 12 people who were outside, some injured, some were in shock and the man was still in the car."
She added: "He seemed OK so at this point we didn't really realise that anyone had been badly injured, even though it was a crazy thing to have happened because, of course, as you can see from the photos, there is actually a wall that goes along the bottom so it must have been going at some speed to crash straight through the window and quite a way into the shop."
A spokeswoman for South East Coast Ambulance Service said: " Our clinicians treated six patients in total, including one patient who was sadly pronounced as deceased at the scene. Five further patients were treated at the scene and then taken to hospital.
"Two patients, an adult male and female, were taken by ambulance to St George's Hospital in London, both with serious injuries.
"Two further patients, an adult male and female, were taken by ambulance to the Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough - again both with serious injuries.
"An adult female with minor injuries was also taken by ambulance to Pembury Hospital."
Peter Thornley posted pictures showing five ambulances at the scene, saying: "Someone has just driven a car straight into Costa coffee in Westerham. Madness.
"Centre of Westerham now all closed off."
Kent Police tweeted: "A witness centre has been set up at The Grasshopper pub in The Green for anyone with info about this morning's collision in #westerham."
Kent Fire and Rescue said it had released two people from the car and initially had five crews at the scene.
Passer-by Tony Lincoln described the carnage left by the crash, saying "it was almost as if a bomb had gone off".
He was sitting at another coffee bar about 10ft away when out of the corner of his eye he saw "a black flash which was obviously the car mounting the pavement followed by a huge bang".
He crossed the road and forced open the door of the Costa shop which was jammed with debris. The room was clouded with dust and someone inside was almost hysterical.
Saying he had never seen "anything as horrific as that", Mr Lincoln told Sky News: "It was carnage in there. I was not aware of anybody lying around injured."
People picked their way through the room which was strewn with tables and chairs and started to leave through an emergency exit.
Mr Lincoln told Sky News: "Everybody was ashen faced and wondering 'how could this happen?'"
He met a neighbour who had walked towards the scene via the high street and had spotted parked cars which had been damaged and a big metal bollard which had been taken out.
Mr Lincoln added: "In the time I have been living in Westerham I have never witnessed anything as horrific as that."
A Costa Coffee spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families who have been affected by this very sad and shocking event.
"We're working with emergency services to offer all possible support during their rescue efforts. Our team are deeply shocked by what has happened."
Chief Inspector Roscoe Walford told BBC News: "At 10.30am a black Audi car came down Westerham High Street and for reasons unknown at this time the driver lost control, mounted the footpath and went through the window of the cafe injuring several people and fatally injuring one elderly lady.
"It is a very sad occasion for Christmas Eve and especially for the family of the lady who has died.
"We will do our very best to come to a conclusion of how this has happened and to help the family through it. "