The four people believed to have been seriously injured when a car entered Ireland’s Four Courts last night might not have survived had it not been for the swift actions of other pub-goers and first responders.
That’s according to Dave Cahill, longtime manager of the courthouse fixture, which remains closed following last night’s crash and fire.
At last check, the four seriously injured people were still hospitalized, but the hope is that all four will recover, we are told. Cahill tells ARLnow that the three Four Courts employees who were injured and taken to hospital have since been released.
The crash happened around 6.45pm on Friday as people gathered near the front of the pub for a local business’s happy hour.
A gray Toyota Camry – ARLnow heard from multiple sources it was being operated as a rideshare vehicle – allegedly sped N. Courthouse Road and crossed the ‘T’ intersection, slamming straight into the pub. It was nearly 20 feet inside the business, Cahill said, and began to catch fire almost immediately.
Quick-thinking customers sprang into action, coming from the back of the restaurant to the smoldering wreckage to help the seriously injured customers, the driver and at least one passenger in the car, who was also injured . Photos taken as fire began to engulf the car and the pub show several people carrying a man – who can be seen in a photo taken seconds earlier collapsed in front of the car – to safety outside.
Police and firefighters arrived on the scene as staff and patrons still tried to flee the pub. Pictures and a TikTok video show police entering Four Courts as smoke billows. In frantic police radio transmissions, the first officers to arrive called for “lots of ambulances” and reported “lots of people” still inside the restaurant as the fire spread.
“It’s an image I will never forget,” Cahill said.
Without patrons risking their own safety to save the injured, and without the lightning-fast response of police and medics – the ACPD headquarters is a few blocks from Four Courts and a fire station is located a short distance away on Wilson Blvd – “it could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Also helps: the pub was significantly less crowded than usual for a Friday, the waiter told NBC 4.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been injured,” Cahill said. Asked when the pub might reopen, Cahill said ‘we’re not thinking about that at the moment’.
Building inspectors have determined that Four Courts is structurally sound but unsuitable for occupancy due to extensive damage. Interior photos this morning, shared with ARLnow, show a huge expanse of charred floors, fixtures and ceilings near the front of the pub.
The car, meanwhile, was removed from the interior and transported on a flatbed tow truck early this morning. Video shows heavy frontal damage from the collision.
Cahill said management would begin assessing repairs and future plans next week, but noted the kitchen and new rear of the pub are largely intact. The current hope is that insurance will help pay employees and keep them on staff.
A GoFundMe page, which Cahill says was created by a regular customer, will also help. At the time of publication, he has raised over $7,500 towards a goal of $50,000.
A total of 14 people were injured, eight of whom were taken to local hospitals, police and firefighters said last night. It is still unclear what led to the accident.
Update at 4 p.m. – Arlington County Police and Fire Department have just released the following joint statement. Two of the victims remain in critical condition, the statement said, while the other two seriously injured people have been stabilized.
The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a single vehicle accident at a busy restaurant in the courthouse area.
At approximately 6:45 p.m. on August 12, police and firefighters were dispatched to the 2000 block of Wilson Boulevard to report a vehicle at a restaurant. Upon arrival, officers immediately began evacuating patrons from the building, assessing their injuries and providing emergency medical treatment. Shortly after the accident, the vehicle caught fire causing a structural fire in the restaurant. The fire was quickly extinguished by the Arlington County Fire Department.
Numerous injuries were reported at the scene and doctors from multiple agencies began to assess and treat patients. Nine patients were transported to area hospitals. Two remain in critical condition, one is in serious but stable condition and six have been treated for non-life-threatening injuries. In addition, six patients were treated and released on the spot. Building engineers assessed the restaurant and determined that it was structurally sound but could not currently be reoccupied.
Preliminary investigation says the driver of the vehicle, who was working 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 in the restaurant. The driver and passenger were among those transported to area hospitals and both suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The cause of the crash is under active investigation and detectives continue to review evidence and speak with witnesses to determine the events leading up to the crash.
“There is no doubt that the decisive actions of the officers who arrived to run directly into the building and evict the patrons saved lives,” Police Chief Andy Penn said. “In 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 policing 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 like these, we see the best of our community. In addition to the first responders, I commend the many witnesses and bystanders who stepped in to help those in need. »
“I am extremely proud of the response of 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’s exactly what they encountered when they arrived on the scene. Through their direct actions, lives have been saved. This incident tested our response system, requiring significant support from our mutual aid partners. Incidents like this reinforce that the Arlington County Fire Department is well prepared and the relationship with our public safety partners remains strong. I applaud those who provided selfless care and evacuated patients to safety in extremely chaotic circumstances. The heroism of first responders and bystanders who ran straight into danger to help is to be commended. Our hearts and thoughts remain with our community as they recover from this tragic event.
On-site assistance was provided by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Fire Department, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, and Joint Base Myer Fire Department Henderson Hall.
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.