SOME were sipping lattes, others were guzzling schooners, and more still were on foot to grab a bite to eat.
But for less than a minute on Friday, a band of strangers came together to lift a 1360-kilogram car off a badly injured mother and baby after they had become trapped underneath it during a horrific incident in inner-city Newcastle.
The Toyota Camry sedan, being driven by an elderly Clarence Town man, had reversed across Perkins Street, gathering speed before shoving a stationary taxi up a gutter, then continuing into the woman and child and crashing through a window of the Vinyl Cafe.
The woman was a customer at the cafe, sitting outside with her partner and holding her son, believed to be only a few months old, in her arms. Within moments, both were twisted underneath the wreck of the Camry with the woman unable to breath.
Enter the dozen or so heroes, who worked together to roll the Camry onto its side in a frantic attempt to get the mother free, while her partner screamed for help and others called the emergency services.
One of the rescuers, Bennett Joy, ran to help after hearing two loud bangs and then screams.
‘‘You couldn’t see [the mother] at all and the father was screaming ‘that’s my baby, that’s my wife’.’’
‘‘Obviously the first bang was the car hitting the taxi and the second hitting the wall,’’ Mr Joy said.
‘‘You couldn’t see [the mother] at all and the father was screaming ‘that’s my baby, that’s my wife’.
‘‘Someone said get a [car] jack and someone else just said let’s lift it.
‘‘We all just got together and lifted it to get her out.’’
The woman, believed to be aged in her late 20s, suffered fractures to her pelvis and shoulder and remained in a serious condition in John Hunter Hospital’s emergency ward on Friday night.
She remained conscious during the 30 minutes she lay on the footpath while paramedics worked to stabilise her.
Her baby son was in intensive care with a fractured skull and was also listed as being in a serious but stable condition.
The driver of the car, a man believed to be aged in his 70s, was taken to hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing.
Newcastle Herald journalist Jason Gordon was crossing Perkins Street when the accident happened.
‘‘People just ran from everywhere,’’ he said.
‘‘They ran out of the pub and there were people trying to get out of the twisted cafe doors just screaming about the woman and baby under the car.
‘‘A guy managed to pull the baby out and put it in the arms of its father who was absolutely distraught and in shock.
‘‘There must have been about 15 blokes who lifted the side of the car up off the ground while one guy actually crawled under to pull the young woman out. She was talking but she wasn’t in a good way.’’
Newcastle City duty officer Inspector Dean Olsen praised the actions of the people who helped lift the car.
‘‘You can be nothing but proud of those who have run in and helped,’’ Inspector Olsen said.
‘‘The situation may have been a very different one if she had not been freed when she was.’’
The Hunter crash investigation unit are looking into the crash.