Car crashes into Washington home

November 19, 2013
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Francesca Sacco / Observer-Reporter
Nick Petronka boarded up the outside of his home at 1206 Bruce St. in Washington after a car crashed into it early Tuesday. The crash damaged duct work and snapped plumbing lines inside the home, and put a large hole in Petronka’s basement wall. Order a Print
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Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
Nick Petronka of Washington points to the area at the top of a wall that was damaged when a car crashed into his house early Tuesday. Order a Print
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Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
Little exterior damage is visible, but the owner of this house on Bruce Street in Washington says damage inside has been estimated at $20,000 after a car crashed into the home. Order a Print

Nick Petronka was in a deep sleep when the sound of a vehicle slamming into his Washington home early Tuesday morning woke him abruptly.

“I’ve never been in an earthquake, but it sounded like an earthquake,” Petronka said.

After jumping out of bed and running to his kitchen window to see what caused the noise, Petronka was surprised to find a vehicle stuck in the side of his home at 1206 Bruce St. He said he called 911 and went outside to make sure the driver didn’t drive away.

“She was irate,” he said. “She wasn’t acting right. Fidgety. The police said she was intoxicated.”

The crash occurred at 12:54 a.m., according to Washington police. City firefighters also were at the scene.

From the outside, Petronka said the damage didn’t look that bad. But once he went into his basement and saw the headlights shining through his wall, he knew the damage would be costly.

“The adjustor was just here,” he said later Tuesday morning. “He estimated the damage at $20,000, but that was without examining the structure.”

Petronka said the crash damaged the duct work inside the home and snapped some of the plumbing, leaving him without water.

“The restoration company is coming out to fix those things,” he said. “I boarded up the outside to prevent the heat from going out the hole.”

The driver of the vehicle, Carolyn T. Smith of Maple Terrace, Washington, was taken to Washington Hospital for treatment of a minor head injury and a blood test. At the scene, Smith admitted to officers that she had been drinking, police said.

No charges have been filed, but the investigation is continuing.

Petronka said he still is unsure how the crash happened. He said police have not yet provided him with that information. Regardless, he has his own theories, possibly that Smith mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake while coming down a hill. “But there’s no skid marks (in the yard). She just hit the house,” he said.

While Petronka was happy that no one was seriously hurt, the sight of the damage makes him sick.

“I’ve been living here since 1996. I’ve worked a lot of years on this house to fix it up,” he said. “It’s kind of depressing. I feel like I’m starting over.”

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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