1 dead, 6 hurt as vehicle hits Calif. nursing home

June 25, 2011 - 9:30 PM

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — One person was killed and six others were injured Saturday when a woman visiting a relative at a nursing home crashed her vehicle into the building, authorities said.

The crash around 9:45 a.m. at the Amberwood Gardens Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center appears to have been an accident. It may have occurred when the driver, who was not injured, mistook the gas pedal for the brake, San Jose police Sgt. Jason Dwyer told the San Jose Mercury News.

At least two of the injuries were considered serious, authorities said. The victims' names have not been released, but Amberwood Director Stephen Hooker told the Mercury News that the person who was killed was an 88-year-old woman.

The driver, who has not been identified, was parking her car when the vehicle suddenly hopped over a concrete parking block, went between two small trees and crashed through a window, Hooker said.

It went into a common room where residents suffering from dementia were gathering for exercises. Their average age was around 85, Hooker said.

"I turned around and saw this car in the room 10 feet from me," said Eric Chin, an activity leader for the center who was in the room. "You could hear glass breaking. A whole chunk of wall was gone. It was scary."

Chin said the driver was in tears and appeared to be shocked.

Kim Rentie, a weekend caregiver for one of the home's residents, said she believed the 100-year-old woman is among those injured. She said she found the woman's sock and shoe when she arrived at Amberwood shortly after the crash.

"Her wheelchair was fully demolished," Rentie said. "Her shoe was full of blood."

At least one nursing home staff member was among those hurt, although Hooker said she suffered a minor injury.

Hooker described the rest of the staff and residents as "devastated" by the incident and said he planned to bring in a psychologist Sunday to help them.

"You're just not prepared for a Saturday morning when someone drives a car through your window," he said.

The nursing home was evacuated for about an hour before the structure was deemed safe and residents were allowed back in, said Mary Gutierrez, a spokeswoman for the San Jose Fire Department.

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Information from: San Jose Mercury News, http://www.sjmercury.com