NSW Police Detective Inspector Mark Christie said it was believed the 89-year-old male driver had been pulling into a parking spot when he accelerated into the cafe.
“They were just enjoying a meal together, having coffee and they were struck by this vehicle,” he told media at the scene.
“The man was pulling into a parking spot … It was obviously a horrendous and chaotic scene.”
Cafe worker Sath Houng said he rushed over and helped push the car back onto the footpath after it crashed into the cafe.
“My wife screamed, ‘Help, help, help,’ ” Mr Houng said. “People were lying on the floor, one person was very critical and being given CPR.”
Mr Houng said his wife had seen the car drive past and later heard the crash.
NSW Ambulance Superintendent Steve Vaughan said paramedics had worked desperately to treat the injured at the “frantic” scene.
“There are multiple patients being treated – with initial reports suggesting at least two patients were pinned.
“The scene was absolutely frantic for emergency services – there was carnage everywhere when we arrived,” he said.
“We are trained to deal with these extreme situations; however, we do have support services available to us and due to the horrific nature of this job, our NSW Ambulance chaplain was there to help not only us, but anyone else at the scene.”
The driver was taken to Ryde Hospital for mandatory testing.
Twelve ambulance crews and a rescue helicopter were sent to the scene.
Tom Rabe is Transport Reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.