Crashes into buildings affect hundreds

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You probably consider it one of the safest places you could be - your home or office. But almost every day in Indianapolis, a vehicle is crashing into a building, sometimes with devastating consequences.

"It's amazing how much damage a car can do to a building or a house," said IMPD crash investigator Sgt. Doug Heustis.

"A car can do serious damage. If not to a building, then to other people," said crash victim Paige Brucker.

The crashes happen at homes and apartments, vacant buildings and ones filled with people, during broad daylight and at night.

"Very surprised. Very surprised. Never imagined that it was as big of an issue as it is," said Lonnie Hinkle. "I never imagined I would come here and see this."

The Jiffy Lube shop where Hinkle works at 82nd Street and Allisonville Road was torn apart. Surveillance video shows a pickup truck crashing into an oil change bay at 3:30 a.m. The driver got out and ran away. He was later caught and police say he didn't have a license and that he was drunk when he lost control.

"That truck hit this wall. You can see the cracks in the bricks and it actually pushed this wall out about a half-inch," Hinkle said.

The building required structural repairs, not to mention a new specialty garage door. The price tag was $60,000, plus at least three months of downtime for the bay, meaning nearly a quarter of the service center's business will be lost.

"Just have to take what life gives you and deal with it. We have a little saying that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent of life is how you react to it," Hinkle said.

Crashes like the one at Jiffy Lube affect hundreds of people every year in Indiana. 13 Investigates discovered over the past decade, a vehicle collides with a building more than 200 times a year - on average, four times a week - sometimes impacting more than just a structure.

"I was sitting on the corner of this couch and I was watching "Jaws" with my mom," said Brucker.

That Monday night movie last November was interrupted when an SUV came crashing through into the living room of Brucker's northeast Indianapolis home. The impact knocked the Brebeuf Jesuit junior out. She spent five days in the hospital.

"I had a concussion. My nose was fractured. My left clavicle was broken, I had several broke ribs, my left wrist was broken," Brucker said.

A gash on her leg was the worst and one on her cheek was possibly caused by a flying brick.

"At first, I couldn't even move that half of my mouth," she said.

The cut took more than 160 stitches.

The driver of the SUV that hit Paige's house had a seizure and investigators think he was also high. While drugs, alcohol, health issues and distracted driving are all factors, police point to one main reason these crashes are happening.

"I think a lot of people don't appreciate just how quickly they can lose control of their vehicle and how much damage they can do with a speeding vehicle," said Heustis.

So the company that wants you to maintain your car also wants you to treat it with respect.

"People's lives are at stake. You're driving a car. It's a 7,000-pound projectile, it's not a toy," Hinkle said.

Brucker, who at 16 just got her driver's license, has a simple message.

"Pay attention when you're driving," she said.

Over the past decade, six people have been killed in Marion County as a result of these types of crashes and 389 people have been injured. Still, police say while they may get a lot of publicity, crashes into buildings are just a fraction of the total number of crashes last year, which was 21,000.

Here are the numbers for crashes involving buildings/walls/tunnels in Marion County for the years given.

Year Total crashes Crashes with injury Crashes with fatalities
2003 185 24 1
2004 219 51 0
2005 220 44 1
2006 187 43 0
2007 235 42 2
2008 261 48 0
2009 203 29 0
2010 194 40 1
2011 182 25 0
2012 201 43 1
2013 (through 6/30/2013) 97 12 1