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Aquarium likely saved lives when car crashed into Texas ED

The driver was killed and five people injured when a car crashed into the ED at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center

Texas Emergency Room Crash

A first responder works the scene after a car crashed into an emergency room at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.

Jay Janner/AP

By Jim Vertuno
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — A large aquarium in the lobby of a Texas emergency room likely saved lives when it absorbed the impact of a car that smashed through the entrance, a hospital official said Wednesday.

The crash Tuesday evening at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center killed the driver and injured five other people, including two children.

[EARLIER: 1 dead, 5 hurt when car crashes into Texas ED]

“The vehicle had a direct impact to a very large aquarium that really, I believe, saved lives,” Dr. Peter DeYoung, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference with police and city emergency officials.

The crash is still being investigated, but there is no indication that it was intentional or that the driver had a medical episode right before it happened, police spokeswoman Ariel Crumes said.

Police identified the driver as Michelle Holloway, 57. She was pulled from the car and received CPR, but died in the ER. Authorities declined to provide an update on the conditions of those who were injured.

Photos showed a silver sedan with a mangled front end sitting entirely inside the lobby. Video showed a chaotic scene of patients scrambling amid smoke and water.

The smoke came from the vehicle’s tires as the wheels were still spinning on the floor tile, DeYoung said. The water was from the aquarium, he said.

“It was in drive and running, and they put their lives in harm’s way and stopped it from running, and did their best to preserve life,” DeYoung said, referring to hospital staff.