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Office worker flies through air after SUV hits building

By by CAty hirst and caMILLE M. DOTY - CHIRST@VICAD.COM & CDOTY@VICAD.COM
Aug. 2, 2012 at 3:02 a.m.
Updated Aug. 3, 2012 at 3:03 a.m.

Employees of James Wayne Properties cleaned     up the wreckage from Wednesday's wreck in which a  silver SUV crashed into the building. Eight people were transported to the hospital, two were considered serious.

John Garcia doesn't remember flying through the air and hitting a wall Wednesday afternoon.

But he does remember seeing a sport utility vehicle plow through the James Wayne Properties building and strike his friend and supervisor sitting next to him.

Garcia, 39, who was in stable condition Thursday at DeTar Hospital Navarro, said he was standing next to Robert Casarez when the SUV came through the wall.

"He was sitting right next to me and the car hit him almost head-on," Garcia said. "I was sitting right there and the car bumped me, so I know it hit him right on."

Garcia, who suffered five broken ribs and bruised lungs, said he is most concerned about Casarez.

"I was about to sit down and all we heard was a big crash. It sounded like a bomb," Garcia said. "Next thing you know, I blacked out. They said I went flying and hit a wall."

All Garcia remembers after that is standing next to an ambulance and being rushed to the emergency room.

Three of the eight injured in the crash were still in a hospital, one in an intensive care unit.

Casarez, 51, was in guarded condition in the intensive care unit at Citizens Medical Center on Thursday evening, a hospital spokesman said.

Gregory Rueff, 53, was moved from ICU to a private room at Citizens Medical Center. His condition was upgraded to stable.

Jessie Bernal, the 54-year-old Victoria driver, was in stable condition at DeTar Hospital Navarro, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The other four people taken to area hospitals Wednesday were treated and released.

Linda Gordon, an office manager, was one of the employees inside when the SUV hit. She was released from Citizens Medical Center.

"I'm cut up, bruised and banged up pretty bad," she said.

She, along with other employees, were back at work Thursday cleaning up debris.

About 20 people were inside the building, attending a meeting when they ended work at 4:30 p.m., soon after the Toyota 4Runner came through the wall.

Garcia said at least 10 more people were expected at the meeting, but hadn't yet arrived.

Sgt. Herschel Buck, of the Victoria Police Department, said the investigation is ongoing and did not release the cause of the crash in the 2600 block of North Laurent Street.

Gordon was unsure when the business would re-open and would not give an estimate of damages to the building.

"We are particularly worried about our employees that have been hurt," owner James Wayne said in a prepared statement.

Garcia is hoping to recover and get back to work soon. Without insurance, he said, he is not sure how he is going to pay his medical bills.

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