‘Lovely’ mum killed in cafe crash named
A married mother-of-two has been identified as the woman killed when a car ploughed into a cafe in Sydney's northwest while she was having coffee with friends, in a scene described by emergency services as "absolutely frantic".
Liz Albornoz, 39, was sitting outside Cafe Si:Zac around 10am on Friday, at the corner of Malton Rd and Roma St in North Epping, when a silver Holden Commodore being driven by an elderly man lurched over a garden bed and wall and into tables.
"They were just enjoying a meeting together, having coffee, and they were struck by this vehicle," Detective Inspector Mark Christie told reporters on Friday afternoon.
Police confirmed the victim's next of kin had been notified.
Insp Christie said the critically injured woman died in hospital with her family by her side.
"Unfortunately, she (Ms Albornoz) has passed away from her injuries," he said.
Witnesses told Seven News a mothers' group had been sitting outside the cafe at the time after dropping their children off at a local primary school.
One woman could be seen crying and clutching her hand over her face while on the phone after the incident.
"The scene was absolutely frantic for emergency services - there was carnage everywhere when we arrived," NSW Ambulance Superintendent Steve Vaughan said.
Local police have spoken to an 89-year-old man who was driving the car. He was taken to Ryde Hospital for mandatory testing but did not suffer any injuries.
"It appears that he's pulled into the parking spot and then there's been some sort of collision after that but we don't know the circumstances … it's still under investigation," Insp Christie said.
"The car has gone over that retaining wall and collided with the patrons at the cafe."
According to her social media accounts, Ms Albornoz worked as an events manager in the marketing team for not-for-profit organisation for the disadvantaged, Social Ventures Australia.
"I have always been passionate about helping others and looking for opportunities to volunteer," her business profile states.
"At SVA I am able to bring together my interests and skills and work with people who share the same values. We all care about building a fairer Australia."
She has a husband and two young daughters.
Ms Albornoz's SVA profile states she held a Masters degree in public relations and advertising from the University of New South Wales and studied corporate law in Venezuela and Spain.
She had previously volunteered for Sydney Catholic Schools, Helping Hands and other international charitable organisations.
Insp Christie said the site of the "very tragic set of circumstances" was "just a small local cafe" in a suburban shopping centre.
"It was obviously a horrendous and chaotic scene … quite a hectic scene," Insp Christie said.
The victim's neighbour gathered with locals at the cafe after the crash.
She told Nine News Ms Albornoz was "just lovely" and "one of the sweetest people I know".
Max Quinnell told the ABC his daughter was one of the women having coffee this morning.
"She had her back to the car but some of the other ladies saw (it) but couldn't do anything," he said.
She was "hysterical" when she rang and is "emotionally a mess", Mr Quinnell told reporters.
Witness Barbara Behrend, who was in another parking spot, said the car "just kept going".
"He went straight ahead into that shop," she told Ten.
"I went 'holy dooley'."
North Epping Update - Paramedics currently treating 10 patients. One patient is in a critical condition.— NSW Ambulance (@NSWAmbulance) February 28, 2020
Multiple ambulance crews rushed to treat 10 people with injuries including the 39-year-old woman who suffered critical abdominal injuries and died at Royal North Shore Hospital.
Supt Vaughan said paramedics arrived to find "a number of patients spread across the scene".
He said two people had leg injuries. Of the four people hospitalised, one is in a serious condition and the other three had minor injuries.
"When you get a call like this, you can't help but think the worst, then all of a sudden your training kicks in and you find yourself thinking about the best way to triage and treat the patients, while managing the scene," Supt Vaughan said.
He said the NSW Ambulance chaplain was there to help staff faced with the "extreme" situation and anyone else who was distressed at the scene.
Crash investigations continue.
- with AAP