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NEW: Quick-thinking customers and first responders helped to save lives, Four Courts manager says

The four people reported to be seriously injured when a car plowed into Ireland’s Four Courts last night may not have survived but for the quick actions of fellow pub-goers and first responders.

That’s according to Dave Cahill, long-time manager of the Courthouse fixture, which remains closed after last night’s crash and fire.

At last check, the four critically injured people were still hospitalized, but the hope is all four will pull through, we’re told. Cahill tells ARLnow that all three Four Courts employees who were injured and brought to the hospital have since been released.

The crash happened around 6:45 p.m. Friday, as people were gathered near the front of the pub for a local company’s happy hour event.

A gray Toyota Camry — ARLnow has heard from multiple sources that it was being operated as a rideshare vehicle — reportedly came speeding up N. Courthouse Road and drove through the “T” intersection, slamming directly into the pub. It was nearly 20 feet inside the business, Cahill said, and started to catch fire almost immediately.

Quick-thinking customers sprang into action, coming from the back of the restaurant to the smoldering wreckage to help severely injured customers, the driver, and at least one passenger of the car, who was also hurt. Photos taken as fire started to engulf the car and the pub show several people carrying one man — who can be seen in a photo taken seconds earlier slumped over in front of the car — to safety outside.

Police and firefighters arrived on scene as employees and customers were still trying to flee the pub. Photos and a TikTok video show police officers running into Four Courts as smoke billowed out. In frantic police radio transmissions, first arriving officers requested “a lot of ambulances” and reported “a lot of people” still inside the restaurant as fire spread.

“It’s an image I’ll never forget,” said Cahill.

Without customers risking their own safety to save the injured, and without the lightning-fast response of police and medics — ACPD headquarters is a couple of blocks from Four Courts and a fire station is a short distance down Wilson Blvd — “it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Also helping: the pub was significantly less crowded than usual for a Friday, a server told NBC 4.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was hurt,” said Cahill.  Asked about when the pub might reopen, Cahill said “we’re not thinking about it right now.”

Building inspectors determined that Four Courts is structurally sound but not fit for occupancy due to the extensive damage. Photos of the interior from this morning, shared with ARLnow, show a vast swath of charred flooring, fixtures and ceiling near the front of the pub.

The car, meanwhile, was removed from inside and hauled away on a flatbed tow truck early this morning. Video shows heavy front-end damage from the collision.

Cahill said management will start to assess repairs and future plans next week, but noted that the kitchen and the newer rear of the pub is largely intact. The current hope is that insurance will help to pay employees and keep them on staff.

A GoFundMe page, which Cahill says was set up by a regular customer, will also help. As of publication it has raised more than $7,500 of a $50,000 goal.

A total of 14 people were injured, including eight who were brought to local hospitals, police and fire officials said last night. There’s still no word on what led to the crash.

Update at 4 p.m. — The Arlington County police and fire departments just issued the following joint statement. Two of the victims remain in critical condition, the statement says, while the other two seriously injured people have been stabilized.

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a single vehicle crash into an occupied restaurant in the Courthouse neighborhood.

At approximately 6:45 p.m. on August 12, police and fire were dispatched to the 2000 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of a vehicle into a restaurant. Upon arrival, officers immediately began evacuating patrons from the building, assessing their injuries and providing emergency medical care. Shortly after the crash, the vehicle caught fire causing a structure fire within the restaurant. The fire was quickly extinguished by the Arlington County Fire Department.

Numerous injuries were reported on scene and medics from multiple agencies began evaluating and treating patients. Nine patients were transported to area hospitals. Two remain in critical condition, one is in serious but stable condition and six were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Additionally, six patients were treated and released on scene. Building engineers evaluated the restaurant and determined it was structurally sound but could not currently be reoccupied.

The preliminary investigation indicates the driver of the vehicle, who was operating as a rideshare driver and had a passenger at the time of the incident, was traveling north on N. Courthouse Road when he left the roadway and crashed into the restaurant. The driver and passenger were among those transported to area hospitals and both sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The cause of the crash remains under active investigation and detectives continue to review evidence and speak with witnesses to determine the events that preceded the crash.

“Undoubtedly, the decisive actions of the arriving officers to run directly into the building and remove patrons saved lives,” said Police Chief Andy Penn. “During a developing emergency incident where seconds count, the men and women of the Arlington County Police Department exemplified their professionalism and unwavering commitment to providing the highest level of police services and I couldn’t be prouder of their response. The coordinated and collaborative response with the Arlington County Fire Department and our mutual aid partners demonstrates the operational readiness of first responders to act quickly during critical incidents to save lives. In tragic events such as these, we see the very best of our community. In addition to first responders, I commend the many witnesses and bystanders who sprang into action to assist those in need.”

“I am extremely proud of the response by the men and women of the Arlington County Fire Department,” said Fire Chief David Povlitz. “Our members are trained to respond to the unthinkable, and that is exactly what they encountered while arriving on scene. Through their direct actions, lives were saved. This incident tested our response system, requiring significant support from our mutual aid partners. Incidents such as this reinforce that the Arlington County Fire Department is well prepared and that the relationship with our public safety partners remains strong. I applaud those who selflessly rendered care and evacuated patients to safety in what was extremely chaotic circumstances. The heroism of the first responders and bystanders who ran directly into danger to help is to be commended. Our hearts and thoughts remain with our community as they recover from this tragic event.”

On scene assistance was provided by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Fire Department, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall Fire Department.

Anyone with information that may assist the ongoing investigation is asked to contact Detective K. Stahl at [email protected] or 703-228-7145. Information may also be reported anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.

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