Men lunching in Silks 'lucky to be alive'
A woman driving a Lexus that plowed through the front window of Silks Tuesday afternoon surveys the damage. Penny Coles/Niagara Advance
Eddie Diijon, a legendary magician and physic living in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was at Silks Country Kitchen for quiet late lunch Tuesday with his longtime friend Blair Robertson, also a physic.
One minute they were sitting at the window table Diijon, 84, always takes at the Virgil restaurant, both enjoying their corned beef sandwiches, the next they were hurled from their seats by a Lexus that accelerated into a parking space and plowed through the large plate glass window into their table.
Robertson was brutally flung forward against the railing at the front of the restaurant, while Diijon was tossed to the side, pinned between the wall and the driver's door. Both were able to climb over debris and walk away on their own steam.
“I thought my neck was broken,” Diijon said Thursday.
Both men consider themselves lucky to be alive, never mind able to get up and walk away. They were taken to hospital by ambulance, treated and released later Tuesday evening.
Robertson, who is from Phoenix, was cleared to fly home Wednesday, but he didn’t leave before dropping into Silks - re-opened with boarding across the front window - with his wife Wendy to thank staff for their help. He was very appreciative of the speedy care and comfort he and his friend received, from the staff who quickly came to their sides and to the firefighters, police and EMS who looked after them, said Jen Phelan, owner of the restaurant in the Village Green Plaza.
While he was at the restaurant, Phelan gave him a copy of their CCTV video showing what had happened, warning him it would be difficult to watch.
She thought he should take it home with him in case he needed it for insurance purposes, she said.
But by Thursday it was on Facebook with more than 20,000 views and was being shown by a local TV station.
With the video, Robertson posted: “I cannot believe we walked away from this. To be clear: we are not "okay." In my case, I'm clear to fly but need immediate followup. I'll be seeing the docs tomorrow. I'm battered and bruised, have a nasty headache and assorted aches and pains. Not fun. What's holding me/us together is that I'm alive.”
Diijon, who hadn’t watched the video, said he shouldn’t be alive.
He’s sore, but he’s surviving, he said Thursday.
“I’ve thanked God a thousand times for that. He must have other plans for me because I didn’t go. I shouldn’t be here today.”
There were large pieces of plate glass everywhere, he said, including hanging from window frame.
"We could have been cut badly," he said. "The glass was flying - it could have hit a major artery.”
He has some small cuts, but nothing serious - it’s his neck that is still his major concern. He’s taking over-the-counter pain killers and planning on taking it easy for a week or so, he said.
Diijon is accustomed to media attention, but usually to talk about his long and successful career as a magician. He was on the David Letterman show with his Amazing Flea Circus, and sold a magician’s prop he acquired to David Copperfield, who he considers as a personal friend.
He isn’t ready to call himself retired yet, but he leads a quiet life, still practising palmistry when he has the opportunity.
He says he’ll go back to Silks for his corned beef sandwich, “but I won’t sit at that table again.”
The driver of the Lexus is an 85-year-old woman who lives in NOTL and also has a home in the U.S., said Niagara Regional Police Const. Phil Gavin.
She said she was not injured and refused medical attention.
She had been to Silks a little earlier, had something to eat and left, said waitress Tammi Warkentin, who had served her.
She was also looking after Diijon's table, and had just walked away when the car came through the window behind her.
"It sounded like a bomb had gone off," she said.
After checking on the two men, she went outside to talk to the driver, telling her to stay in her car.
"She was very upset. She was really concerned that she had hurt someone."
Warkentin said she has watched the video several times, and is still having a hard time processing what happened.
"I don think it will ever go away."
Since the collision was on private property, once it was determined she was not impaired, there were no charges police could lay, said Gavin.
He called it a case of the driver being confused.
Phelan said it was fortunate that it happened around 3 p.m., when the restaurant was quiet.
There were only about 10 people in the dining room, and nobody else at the window tables, she said, although the video shows two women going in, heading toward the window briefly before changing their minds and deciding to take another table.
“I’m just glad it wasn’t a little later,” said Phelan. “There are always kids passing by along the sidewalk after school. It could have been so much worse.”