Austin ER crash: Woman who drove through hospital was intoxicated, police say

The woman who drove into St. David’s North Austin Medical Center in February was intoxicated, Austin police said.

The driver died and at least five people were seriously injured. Now, city officials are calling for more safety precautions at local hospitals.

"It was such an intense experience, and it'll take a while to get the sounds of everyone's screams off my head," witness Michelle Cruz told FOX 7 back in February.

A car barreled into St. David’s North Austin Medical Center in February. Witnesses said the white Acura, driven by 57-year-old Michelle Holloway, whipped around in the parking lot, accelerated, went over the curb, through the flower bed, and into the crowded emergency room lobby, through the fish tank. 

A family of four was standing by the fish tank and was hit by the car. The husband said everything went dark and when he was coming to his senses, he thought he had died. He then said he saw his son and wife on the ground. His other son was found in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. Others were also reported to have been hurt.

"When this happened, there was a loud noise, the facility knew something was going on and people descended from all parts of the hospital to rally together and to jump into what was a very unknown and dangerous situation," St. David’s North Austin Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter DeYoung said.

The danger was the woman behind the wheel. The medical examiner toxicology testing revealed Holloway’s blood alcohol concentration was between .25 and .30, which is almost four times the legal limit for driving. The testing also showed the presence of cannabinoid in her system.

MORE: Car crashes into ER at North Austin hospital leaving 1 dead, 5 injured; driver identified

Holloway’s niece told police they came to the hospital to pick up her grandma. She said she parked in front of the ER drop off location and ran inside, leaving her aunt and her dog inside. She told police her aunt was asked to move the car because it was blocking the ER entrance and that is when she drove into the lobby.

"It's just one of those things that you never expect to happen," witness Stephen Hughes told FOX 7 back in February.

Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly said it never should have happened.

"Had safety measures been in place, this incident wouldn't have occurred," Kelly said.

She has introduced a resolution to initiate an amendment to the city land development code requiring all new builds of hospitals to have crash tested safety bollards.

"I believe it should be commonplace at all hospitals across the community, and I would request voluntary compliance so that we don't have a tragedy occur in the future," Kelly said.

Since the crash, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center has installed bollards. The family who was injured has filed a lawsuit against St. David’s Healthcare claiming gross negligence for not having bollards at the time.

St. David’s Healthcare said in a statement: "Per St. David’s Healthcare policy, we do not comment on pending claims or litigation. St. David’s Healthcare will work with policymakers and officials to ensure compliance with any new laws if they are passed."

The resolution filed by council woman Kelly is expected to be voted on at the next council meeting on July 18.