Survivor describes truck plowing into group outside Midtown Shinola, killing his friend
DETROIT (WJBK) - One survivor reveals what happened when a truck plowed into a crowd outside a Shinola store in Midtown Detroit on Thursday.
A 72-year old man died from his injuries overnight and two other people were hurt.
Police say the driver admitted to drinking booze and popping pills before getting behind the wheel.
"We started to cross and there was no car, and then he came around the corner and just headed right for me," said the survivor.
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A visit to Midtown for 65-year-old Doug Vanorden and three friends turned deadly.
"I'm blessed, I guess. I don't know. I'm the one who took the biggest brunt," he said.
Vanorden says he and 65-year-old Linda Levasseur met up with two friends Thursday afternoon to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and then grab some food at Traffic Jam on Canfield near Cass.
After visiting Shinola, the group stopped to admire Tesla show cars parked out front, when he says he spotted a speeding truck.
"I thought he would veer away but he just kept heading for us," he said.
Trying to push Lavasseur out of the way, Vanorden says he put his hands on the hood of the truck to try and block himself.
"When I first landed after it knocked me over and everything else, I thought it could be a terrorist," he said.
The truck also hit Vanorden's friend, 72-year-old John McDaniels, who had been about 5 feet from him.
"He was probably 25 feet down the thing after he got hit," Vanorden said.
Sources say when police arrived, the driver admitted to drinking alcohol, and taking ecstasy and Xanax.
The passenger of the truck, who says he's the uncle of that driver, tells Fox 2 he put the brake on to stop the driver from leaving.
While Vanorden and Lavasseur are expected to recover, McDaniels originally in critical condition, died early Friday morning.
Police say it was just a day before his 73rd birthday.
"He is just a fantastic person. He was all day long," Vanorden said.
The driver of the truck, who is awaiting charges, was identified as 42-year-old DeAndre Simmons.
His son, DeAndre Nelson, says he was unaware of what happened, as he hasn't been in contact with his father in quite some time, but Nelson sends his thoughts and prayers to the families affected.
"We just need to stop that kind of stuff because people's lives are important and you can't make up for it," Vanorden said.
Meanwhile, as Levasseur undergoes surgery. Vanorden says he appreciates the caring staff over at Detroit Receiving, along with the crowd of people that day, who he says helped without hesitation.
"I want to thank all of the Tesla people, people at the restaurant people, the people at Shinola ... they were all great," Vanorden said.