|By Beatrice Dupuy and Carli Teproff, The Miami Herald|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
But this was no act. Etcheverry's 98-year-old mother, Norma, and her caretaker, were inside the house at
"We are thankful nothing happened to her and the caretaker," she said. The elderly driver and passenger of the car were taken to
Whether it's speed, crashes or police pursuits, cars bursting through buildings are all too routine. And while these types of crashes aren't formally tracked in
Cars into grocery stores. Cars into gas stations. Cars into homes, hospitals, nursing homes, even insurance companies.
On Tuesday, a Cadillac hit a house in
Crashes like these are getting attention, leading to new laws that require buffers in front of buildings. And they're spurring awareness campaigns.
"Basically when I realized it was a big problem, I felt compelled to do something about it," StoreFrontCrashExpert.com founder
More than 60 car-concrete crashes happen in the U.S. on a daily basis, Wright said.
Wright, who is from
The car sailed into him, injuring his left knee. Wright then began researching storefront crashes and started a website. He later founded the
Car-in-building accidents cause 10 serious injuries each day across
Wright soon found that there was no one explanation for these crashes. The drivers are young and old. The reasons are simple pedal confusion -- mistaking accelerator for brake -- drunken driving, police chases.
But Wright said property owners can be prepared.
"For years now, I believe the best approach is a proactive defensive approach on the part of property owners," Wright said.
That's happening in some places. Store owners and government officials are working together to protect the buildings and the lives of people inside.
After her death, Albelo's father approached
The new rules do not apply to existing buildings, just if a store is being renovated or being built from the ground up, he said.
"Not too many things you do make a difference," he said. "This is one of them that has made a difference and will continue to make a difference."
A tragic crash in
In April, a car flew into a KinderCare daycare center, killing a 4-year-old child and injuring 13 children and an adult. The KinderCare reopened in June with enforced planters standing outside.
The barriers are a "very simple thing to do at a reasonably low price," said
In addition to the human safety concerns, the price to repair damage is steep, depending on the damage and whether a building is structurally harmed. Unlike a damaged car, which can be towed away to be assessed, experts need to tread carefully with buildings.
"There are additional dangers we deal with when a car hits a building,"
First, fire rescue personnel have to evaluate whether the building is structurally safe or in danger of collapsing, Carroll said. Other challenges include people trapped underneath or inside of cars and the risk of fire.
"Car vs. building accidents can turn into mass casualty accidents," he said.
But that's the extreme.
"It was a blessing," he said. "That mural is a historical landmark."
Pilch worked on one office building that got hit twice in the same spot, 16 years apart. Last year, the
"I have a feeling a lot of these accidents are from texting or people playing with their phones," Filomeno said.
Most building crashes are caused by careless or reckless driving. Police departments have different ways of classifying the accidents, so there is no telling exactly how often they happen.
"Most of the time it's a matter of speed," he said.
That was the case two years ago when a driver heading to a friend's place after a late-night out lost control on a curve, went airborne and crashed between the first and second floors of a
In late June,
"I thought it was a bomb," said Romero, secretary at
Where did the Ford SUV end up?
Smashed into an insurance agency.
"We all ran down immediately to find out what happened," Romero said.
Her mother is now left with an unlivable home where oil pools, crumpled concrete and broken furniture remain on her living room floor.
" It's a total loss," Etcheverry said. "We cannot live there. It's not safe to be inside."
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