Archive for Thursday, May 20, 2004

Drunk driver smashes car into home

May 20, 2004

Most nights, Basehor resident Leonard Simpson can be found sitting on a couch in his living room reading the day's paper or watching the nightly news. Most nights, he's sitting in that familiar spot talking with his son, Noah, about events of the day.

Most nights.

Fortunately for Simpson, he bucked familiarity Friday, May 14 by sitting somewhere else in the living room. At approximately 1:15 a.m., just as he was nodding off to sleep, a drunk driver smashed his 1970s Cadillac inside the Simpson home at 2916 N. 154th Street.

The car ripped through the family's sun porch, shredding its way through wood, glass and a dozen or so concrete cinder blocks. It also punched Simpson's living room wall, shattering a 10 x 6 plate glass window, and sent Simpson's favorite couch -- seated on the other side of the living room wall -- sprawling across the room.

"I'd been watching tornado reports on television that night," Leonard said. "That's what I thought it was at first. I was dozing off, and then I look up and there's a car bumper sticking in the window."

Simpson's initial thought was warranted. Today, the front of the home resembles an area destroyed by a natural disaster: a myriad of broken glass, splintered wood, concrete blocks and pieces of lawn hedges are strewn chaotically inside the sun porch.

Good fortune smiled at Simpson -- and the home-rearranging drunk driver -- Friday morning. Miraculously, neither sustained injuries as result of the accident.

"I'd be sitting there most nights," Simpson said, pointing to where the couch sits. "If I'd been on that couch that night, though, I wouldn't be standing here talking to you today."

The driver, a 17-year-old Basehor-Linwood High School student, failed a breathalizer test when police arrived. Basehor police said the driver's blood alcohol level tested at twice the legal limit.

Later on Friday, Basehor police charged the driver with driving under the influence, reckless driving and consumption of alcohol by a minor.

The driver was speeding up Ripley Street Friday morning and made a sharp turn at N. 154 Street, police said. He lost control of the vehicle and went through a ditch and past approximately 20 yards of Simpson's front lawn before crashing through the home.

At the scene, police told Simpson they estimated the driver was traveling between 50 and 60 miles per hour.

Once inside the house, the driver got out of the vehicle and asked Leonard naively if the incident could be kept between the two of them.

"That screwball was yelling 'Don't call the cops, don't call the cops," he said. "He looked like he was trying to get away. I called 911 after that."

Simpson shares the home on 154th Street with his son, Noah Simpson, a social studies teacher at Basehor-Linwood High School. Noah Simpson was on his way home when his father called and told him of the accident.

"I was pretty irritated at first," he said. "After that I was more worried about Dad. He's 65 (years old) and doesn't need too much excitement."

It took nearly two hours to remove the car from the Simpson home Friday.

Insurance agents have not yet placed a price tag on the damage caused but the figure is expected to be substantial.

As well as destroying the sun porch and one of the living room walls, the wreck also caused damage to the roof and some of the home's support beams.

Despite this, the Simpsons are somewhat humorous about the incident, which they say will at least make a good story to tell friends.

Also, Leonard said, his couch wasn't seriously damaged and there's no reason to believe anything serious can befall him now while sitting in his favorite spot.

"That's what I told Noah," Leonard said. "It'll probably be all right now. What are the chances of that happening again? But who would have ever thought it would happen the first time?"

Commenting has been disabled for this item.