Children among 5 hurt when stolen car crashes into taco shop


ESCONDIDO, Calif. — The driver of a stolen Subaru ran a red light and crashed into a truck before slamming into a taco shop in Escondido late Thursday, sending five people to the hospital, police said.

The investigation started in Oceanside, when two men carjacked a Subaru Forester at knifepoint, according to the Escondido Police Department. Someone called Escondido police a short time later, around 10:15 p.m., about a Subaru driving erratically.

While still on the phone, the witness reported seeing the small SUV run a red light and crash into a truck at Valley Parkway and North Fig Street. The driver of the truck was ejected and suffered critical injuries, Escondido police said.

The Subaru veered off the road and crashed into Frida’s Tacos at 675 E. Valley Parkway, which was occupied at the time though no injuries to customers or staff were reported, police said. Video from the scene showed the car in the middle of the restaurant with broken glass and debris covering the sidewalk.

Two men, two women and two children were inside the stolen Subaru, according to an Escondido police spokesperson. The women and children, ages 3 and 5, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, police said. Authorities also confirmed the two kids in the car are siblings and belong to one of the women.

Officers identified Hans Velasquez, a 20-year-old Oceanside resident, as the driver of the stolen Subaru. He took off on foot from the crash site but was taken into custody a short distance away on suspicion of carjacking, felony driving under the influence of alcohol, felony hit-and-run and felony child endangerment, Escondido police said.

Anthony Quezada, a 19-year-old Escondido resident, also ran off after the crash and was arrested on suspicion of carjacking, authorities said.

Police also detained two unnamed women, one of whom was a girlfriend of one of the men in the car. Authorities believe they were picked up along the way.

Gracy Ayala, owner of Frida’s Taquería, Ayala says she was on her way to the taqueria when she got a frantic phone call from an employee.

“When the car was coming in, everyone was cleaning up this area and they just ran to the back, so that was pretty scary,” Ayala said.

She said her biggest concern was for the kids and the people who got hurt.

Ayala added Thursday night’s crash is the second time someone has hit her restaurant in the year she’s been open there.

The restaurant is closed Friday, but they plan to reopen the patio and serve customers Saturday.

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