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2 brothers killed after 78-year-old driver crashes SUV into Hardee's restaurant in Wilson ::

2 brothers killed after 78-year-old driver crashes SUV into Hardee’s restaurant in Wilson ::

— The Wilson Police Department said two brothers were killed Sunday after an SUV crashed into a Hardee’s on Forest Hills Road.

Police said 78-year-old Jesse Lawrence of Wilson crashed an SUV into the restaurant around 9:45 am Witnesses told WRAL News Lawrence crossed over busy Forest Hills Road, narrowly missing traffic.

The right side of the restaurant was completely gone after Lawrence’s vehicle went right through the front windows, striking two brothers who were inside the business.

58-year-old Christopher Ruffin was pronounced dead on scene while his 62-year-old brother, Clay Ruffin, was taken to the hospital where he later died.

An employee told WRAL News the two brothers were sitting and eating breakfast when it all happened.

Gabriela Palacios Alonzo was in the drive-thru at Hardee’s when she heard an employee scream.

“I heard the young lady screaming from the drive-thru and I look in the mirror and I just see glass everywhere,” said Alonzo.

Alonzo walked up to the scene and was horrified by what she saw.

“A Black male [was] trying to get up. He wasn’t able to,” said Alonzo. “He was outside on the sidewalk. He was in a bad state.”

A Hardee’s employee who was working at that time said there was also a young boy who ended up underneath the SUV while his dad was in the restroom.

“When he came out of the bathroom and went through all the glass … he found and pulled the boy from underneath the car,” said the employee. “The little boy was screaming and hollering because he was scared and had cuts on the top of his head.”

The employee said the impact was so powerful there was glass at the front counter and pieces of the building in the lobby.

Lawrence was also transported to the hospital where he was treated and released. The extent of Lawrence’s injuries are unknown at this time.

Hardee’s franchise operator Boddie-Noell Enterprises told WRAL News it was “shocked and saddened” by 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,” said the company. “We also are saddened for our restaurant employees who were working during the tragic incident and are taking steps to support them.”

The company said it has called in an outside counselor to be available to employees. The restaurant will also remain closed as the police investigation continues.

Police said officers are still investigating the incident, but do not believe the crash to be the result of a medical issue or impairment.

It is unclear if Lawrence has been charged, or if any charges are going to come.

Police have not said at this time if there are other injuries.

The Wilson Police Department is encouraging anyone with information regarding this case to contact the Wilson Police Department at 252-399-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 252-243-2255.


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