SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — The North Scituate man who crashed his car into a Subway sandwich shop last week tells 12 News he has no memory of what happened.
First responders rushed to the Apple Valley Mall in Smithfield and found 69-year-old Jeffrey Barden’s car inside the restaurant, with two people pinned underneath it.
Charlotte Vacca, 47, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. Barden and four others who were inside the restaurant were rushed to nearby hospitals.
The moments leading up to the crash are all a blur for Barden, who said he was out running errands and had just pulled into the mall parking lot.
“I was going to put the car in park,” he explained. “The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the ambulance.”
Barden was disoriented and unsteady on his feet as first responders removed him from his car, according to an incident report obtained by 12 News. He suffered minor injuries in the crash and has since been released from the hospital.
“It was the first time I have ever had anything like that happen to me,” he continued. “I didn’t even know what had happened.”
The incident report states that Barden hit another car outside Chelo’s before speeding across the parking lot and slamming into the Subway. He believes a seizure is what caused him to lose control of his vehicle.
“People keep saying, ‘It’s not your fault,'” Barden said. “I keep saying that it doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“I’m heartbroken by the whole thing,” he continued. “If there was something I could do to change things, I would do it.”
Vacca’s oldest daughter created a GoFundMe page to help cover her mother’s funeral expenses. So far, it has raised more than $40,000.
Bouquets of flowers and a note that reads “Please keep them all in your prayers” have been placed outside the sandwich shop to honor Vacca and the other victims.
Lori Boffi, owner of CardSmart, told 12 News she still gets emotional thinking about the crash, which happened just steps from her storefront.
“It was something out of a movie,” Boffi recalled. “The whole thing was just shocking.”
“To go to work and not be able to go home to your family … that hits home,” she added.
Boffi is now trying to turn the tragedy into something positive by hosting a bake sale at CardSmart this weekend. It will take place both Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Anyone can stop by,” she said, adding that all of the proceeds will benefit Vacca’s family.
Barden has not been charged in connection with the crash at this time, according to police.
The Subway and neighboring Planet Fitness were significantly damaged in the crash. The gym has since reopened, though not all of the damaged equipment has been fixed yet. It’s unclear at this time when the Subway will reopen.