Washington: How did a man crash a Toyota Corolla into the second floor of a Pennsylvania home?
It’s a question firefighters were asking themselves on Sunday when they responded to a one-car crash at a home in Lewistown, and found the 2006 gray sedan jutting into a dormer window and stuck on the mangled roof.
One of the homeowners was at the house at the time of the crash but was downstairs and was not injured, Sam Baumgardner, the administrator of the Junction Fire Company, told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
“This is the stuff you see in movies,” Baumgardner said.
Charges are pending against driver Evan Miller, 20, of Lewistown after the Pennsylvania State Police determined that the crash was not an accident, agency spokesman Myles Snyder told The Post. A State police report said the crash was “an intentional act.”
Miller, who was injured in the crash, was taken to Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, authorities said. A hospital spokesman told The Post that it has “no information on this patient.”
As authorities investigate how the car got to the second floor of the house, Baumgardner said the fire company believes Miller hit a culvert, or a tunnel carrying a stream, next to the house that caused it to go airborne.
“The raise and elevation from the bottom and top of the culvert was enough to give the vehicle the ability to clear the vehicles in the driveway and land in the second floor of the house,” he said.
What are the charges?
State Police did not share additional details of the incident, such as a motive for the crash and whether Miller knows the family that lives there. Photos shared by the fire company showed the destruction caused by the crash, including a massive hole in the second floor of the house that was exposed once the vehicle was removed.
Charges pending against Miller include aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal mischief, records show. If he’s convicted of aggravated assault, he could face five to 20 years in prison, according to Pennsylvania attorneys.
Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning, and it is unclear whether he has an attorney.
Though rare, other cars have crashed into the second floor of a building. In 2018, a speeding car in Southern California hit a median and went airborne into the second floor of a dental office, according to KNBC in Los Angeles. Earlier this year, a speeding car in Northern California flew into a home’s second floor, injuring the driver, SFGATE reported.
At 3:15pm on Sunday, Baumgardner said, the fire company responded to a report that there was an accident in which a car had crashed into a house in Lewistown, about 170 miles east of Pittsburgh. But the accident report was soon clarified with an important detail: The vehicle had landed on the second floor.
“That had guys scratching their heads right off the bat,” said Baumgardner, who did not go to the scene on Sunday.
The fire company said on Facebook that first responders “arrived on scene within minutes to find one vehicle into the second floor with the patient out of the vehicle.” The volunteer firefighters began stabilizing the car as it dangled from the home, Baumgardner said.
“You have the potential of a fire from a vehicle that’s still running,” he said. “There was a lot of concern when they pulled up as to what they were getting into.”
Firefighters used vehicle stabilization struts to help hold up the house, Baumgardner said. A towing company pulled the car off the second floor, and first responders “stabilized the house and helped the homeowners put a tarp on the hole” before storms hit the state, the fire company wrote on Facebook. Baumgardner said that getting the car down took about three hours.
The homeowners have not been publicly identified by authorities. The home in the 800 block of Alfarata Road is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house that sits across the street from a field, according to Zillow and Google Maps.
While the crash in Lewistown was unusual, it is not the first time the Lewiston fire company has dealt with a vehicle that crashed through a home. Baumgardner recalled six or seven years ago when a car drove through not one but two homes.
But Sunday’s situation - the second-floor landing and getting the car off the roof - was something the fire company could not have imagined, Baumgardner said.
“It was kind of a crazy scene,” he said.