SFPD squad car crashes into Sunset District home

May 9, 2010 1:57:34 PM PDT
A San Francisco couple was forced out of their home after a police car sped out of control and crashed into their building.

It happened Saturday at 18th and Noriega Streets in the Sunset District. Even people who saw the police car crash into the home did not quite believe it.

"It was surreal. You don't expect to see that. It's like something you would see in a movie except it was happening right in front of us," said one witness. "For a second, we just looked at each like, 'Did that really happen?'"

Witnesses say the police car was going very fast and was about to crash into a car that was already in the intersection.

"He had his lights on and no siren. And, he just gunned it and started going through the stop sign, and swerved to avoid the car, and just went full force into that garage," Robin Carlson recalled.

"It was like he came out of the sky you know, just flying," said another witness.

It looked like he was still flying when he slammed into the home. His wheels were still airborne. The officer driving the car was fine. Investigators say he was on his way to an emergency.

"An officer was responding to a call for back-up from another officer who was dealing with a suicidal person. The officer was responding with, we believe, possibly lights and sirens," explained Sgt. Nelson Artiga.

Investigators spoke to the witness who told ABC7 the officer's siren was not on. They say the incident is still under investigation.

The couple who lives at the house was home when the car crashed. They were not hurt in the accident, but were shaken up and did not want to talk about the incident.

"Luckily, they were upstairs. They were ready to have dinner and a glass of wine and stuff," said neighbor Bella Cipparrone. "Thank God they are safe. I was really worried about them when I came out."

The officer's car not only hit the house, it also struck a gas line. The smell of gas filled the street for hours and officers kept the block closed off. It all created a tense evening in the neighborhood.

"We were very stressed out because of the gas leak. For a couple of hours, we had to wait for PG&E to show up, which they did. We are all safe now," Cipparrone said.

The crash happened around 7:00 in the evening, but could have been devastating had it happened earlier when the couple was having a garage sale.


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