Centenarian dies after car crash into nursing home

Centenarian dies after car crash into nursing home

June 26th, 2011 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A 100-year-old woman on Sunday became the second person killed after a car driven by a 90-year-old woman slammed through the wall of a San Jose nursing home the previous morning, leaving five others injured, authorities said.

Suzanne Infante died Sunday morning from injuries suffered in the crash at the Amberwood Gardens Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where she was a resident, the Santa Clara County coroner said.

A second resident, 88-year-old Esther Bocanegra, also was killed when the car drove into a common room where residents were gathering for exercises.

Two of the victims remained hospitalized Sunday, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Amberwood Director Stephen Hooker told the newspaper that their average age was around 85.

Police have not released the names of the injured victims or details about their injuries. Sgt. Jason Dwyer said the individuals' ages made it difficult to characterize the seriousness of their conditions.

"I can say the injuries appear to be non-life-threatening," he told The Associated Press. "But what is considered life-threatening is different at this advanced age. It changes the rules a little bit."

The driver of the car, who has not been identified, was visiting a relative at the home, Dwyer said. He said he did not know what caused her to lose control of the vehicle, but said it's a possibility she had mistaken the accelerator for the brake.

The crash demolished a wall and a couple of large windows, Dwyer said. The 258-bed facility was evacuated for about an hour as fire officials inspected the damage, but the building was deemed structurally sound.

Kim Rentie, a weekend caregiver for Suzanne Infante, arrived at Amberwood shortly after the crash. She said she feared Infante was among those injured after finding the woman's sock and shoe.

"Her wheelchair was fully demolished," Rentie told the Mercury News. "Her shoe was full of blood."

Hooker did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment Sunday. He told the Mercury News on Saturday that at least one staff member was among those hurt, although he said she suffered a minor injury.

Hooker said the rest of the staff and residents were devastated by the incident.

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