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Car crashes into Hancock house

December 24, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

HANCOCK - Jennifer Moats was fast asleep Tuesday night when a loud blast and earthquake-like shaking roused her from her bed.

She soon discovered it was no natural phenomenon, however. As Moats made her way down the steps of her house on West Main Street, she saw a tree branch protruding through her side window and heard the cries for help from outside.

A car smashed into the corner of the two-story frame and vinyl siding house at 255 W. Main St. shortly after 11 p.m., knocking the house about half-foot off its foundation.

"I thought it was a gas explosion. There was a loud bang and the house shook," said Moats, who was home with her 7-year-old daughter at the time.

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The driver of the car, a 17-year-old whom the Hancock Police Department declined to identify, was treated at Washington County Hospital and released, police said.

The house was not as fortunate.

The impact from the collision unhinged the home from its foundation by between 6 and 8 inches.

Cracks line the interior walls and the house is not structurally sound. Authorities pegged the damage at $95,000.

"I'm looking at probably a new house, maybe," said Jamey Moats, who was at work at the time. "It all depends on the insurance company."

The house did not look totaled on Wednesday. A trail of downed hedges shows the path that the vehicle took as it slammed into the corner. A window was smashed and there is visible damage to the siding on the corner of the house.

But the family is now homeless for the Christmas holidays.

Moats, 26, who volunteers at the Hancock Fire Co., said he has seen all kinds of accidents.

"I've seen them in houses before, but not as bad as what they did to this," he said.

Moats, who works as a correctional officer at the Maryland Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown, said he has not decided whether to tear the house down and rebuild or move altogether.

Jennifer Moats votes to move.

"I'm not comfortable with that curve," she said.

The house sits off the West Main Street at a point where the road bends around and up. It is difficult for drivers to see the home, she said.

Last week, Moats, 27, said a car ended up in the front yard of one of her neighbors.

There is no hurry to remove the furniture, but Jamey Moats said a heavy wind or snowstorm could bring the roof down. He said the family will remove a few basic items - and the Christmas presents that were already wrapped and placed around the tree.

He said he and his wife and daughter will spend the holidays at his father's house.

"It could have waited until after Christmas," he said.

The driver of the car, which was moving about 40 mph, apparently fell asleep at the wheel, Hancock Police Chief Donald Gossage said.

Jennifer Moats said the teen and his mother came by on Wednesday to see how the house and family were doing.

The teenager, who has had perfect attendance since first grade made it back to school Wednesday morning.

"When they told me today that he went to school, I couldn't believe it," Moats said.

Moats said she thought about what would have happened if she or her daughter had been on the first floor at the time. She also considered what would have happened to the driver if the car had traveled a few feet to the right.

"We're just glad he didn't hit the big tree. It could have been a lot worse," she said.




Staff Writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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