WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — The Wilson Police Department is investigating what led up to a man crashing into a Hardee’s over the weekend leaving two brothers dead.
Reis Yu told CBS 17 he’s still processing what happened. He manages the Autobell Car Wash across the street.
He said he was off the clock Sunday when suddenly he got a call from his employees with a message he wasn’t expecting.
“The customer actually came and got a car wash and upon exiting the car wash, the customer put his vehicle in drive and rapidly accelerated jumping the curb across the street, going all the way across Forest Hills Road into the Hardee’s,” Yu said.
Police released a report on this crash on Wednesday describes how the vehicle “accelerated out of control” after exiting the car wash before it crashed into the restaurant.
The Wilson Police Department said 78-year-old Jesse Lawrence crashed his SUV into the fast-food restaurant killing 58-year-old Christopher Ruffin and his older brother, Clay, 62.
Taylor Melvin manages the Sonic next door.
“I was on the phone with my general manager. She was standing right there in the bushes. We were talking about stuff in the restaurant. All of a sudden, I heard a boom,” Melvin said. “She’s like somebody just ran into Hardee’s.”
Monday afternoon crime scene tape still surrounded the closed restaurant. Wilson police said they don’t believe it to be medical or impairment related.
“Prayers are up to every single family member that was involved and I just hope everybody can get through it,” Melvin said.
Those who know the brothers are also praying for the family.
Johnnie Mitchell lives right next door to Clay Ruffin.
“Clay was just a good man. He’s somebody that you’d want to be around,” Mitchell said. “I just got through talking to him that morning. He was around there washing his grill off and the next thing I know he was gone.”
Denise Harris is also Clay’s neighbor and a family friend. She told CBS 17 that both brothers are uncles to her son.
“They’re so loving and sweet family, you know, and they all got along more or less and it was so heartbreaking when we heard this,” Harris said.
In a statement, the franchise owner of the Hardee’s restaurant said:
Hardee’s franchise operator Boddie-Noell Enterprises is shocked and saddened by the incident at our 2313 Forest Hills Road Hardee’s location on Sunday in which a car drove into the restaurant dining area and as a result two people were killed.
We are cooperating fully with the Wilson Police Department in their investigation of the incident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the two customers who died as the result of the vehicle which crashed into the dining area at approximately 9:30 a.m. We also are saddened for our restaurant employees who were working during the tragic incident and are taking steps to support them. We have called on an outside counselor/chaplain to be available for the employees and have closed the restaurant as the police investigation continues.Boddie-Noell Enterprises, Inc.