President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were rushed to safety by the Secret Service after a car suddenly ploughed into a parked SUV that was guarding the presidential motorcade.
Mr Biden was walking out of his campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday night to his waiting armoured SUV when a silver copper sedan hit a US Secret Service vehicle that was closing off intersections for the president’s departure.
The sedan, which carried a Delaware licence plate, then tried to continue into a closed-off intersection, before Secret Service personnel surrounded the vehicle with their weapons drawn and instructed the driver to put his hands up.
Mr Biden was captured looking stunned and froze when he heard the loud bang close by.
Secret Service agents then quickly ushered him into his waiting vehicle, where Dr Biden was already seated.
They were driven swiftly back to their home. The president’s schedule was otherwise unaffected by the incident.
Special Agent Steve Kopek, a Secret Service spokesperson, said in a statement that the vehicle struck had been securing the route for Mr Biden’s motorcade.
“There was no protective interest associated with this event and the President’s motorcade departed without incident,” Mr Kopek was quoted as saying by NBC News.
The Bidens had spent the night aving a meal with members of his re-election team inside the Biden-Harris 2024 headquarters in downtown Wilmington at the time of the incident, according to a White House press pool report.
The president and first lady had emerged from the headquarters into the rainy downtown area at around 8.07pm, where Dr Biden waved to pool reporters and wished them “Happy Holidays”.
Mr Biden was met with shouted questions from reporters, one of whom asked why he was not doing well in the polls.
The president responded: “They’re the wrong polls.”
At that moment, the silver sedan hit what seemed to be a motorcade SUV at the intersection across from the entrance of the campaign headquarters, the pool report stated.
”There was a loud bang,” the White House pool report said “and POTUS was standing outside the vehicle with a surprised expression on his face.
“A man walking by loudly said ‘oh my gosh’ when this happened,” the report added.
Television footage showed Secret Service agents escorting Mr Biden to his car after the impact.
The silver sedan, which sustained damage to its bumper, was quickly surrounded by agents who drew their weapons.
The driver – an unidentified male – was seen complying with agents’ instructions and raising his hands in the air.
It remains unclear whether the crash was accidental or deliberate – or whether the driver was aware that Mr Biden was at the scene prior to the crash.
The man’s identity has not been released.
Meanwhile, the Bidens were safely back at their home in Delaware for around 8.20pm.
Wilmington Police Department spokesperson David Karas told Axios that local officers were “investigating the motor vehicle collision”.
“Investigators are also working to determine if impairment was a factor,” he added.