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Southeast cabana clobbered by yard-hopping driver

by: David F. Ashton For whatever reason, this car is almost half-way rammed into a cabana in the back of the homeowner’s yard.

Many car crashes occur on dark, rainy nights - but the odd smashup on S.E. 79th Avenue at S.E. Mitchell Street that took place on Thursday afternoon, August 11, happened on a beautiful, sunny summer day - a little after 3 pm.

The crash that embedded the front end of a silver 2006 Honda Civic into a newly-finished cabana right up to the front door hinges, seemed like an unusual accident to happen on a narrow side street. Yet, the extent of the damage was considerable.

Using a driveway for a ramp, the northbound Honda - by some accounts, going 45 mph - apparently veered slightly eastward, up across the sidewalk. But instead of plowing into that house, it turned north as it mowed down the steel corner post of a chain-link fence - set in about three feet of concrete.

The side wall, studs, and sheetrock of the cabana brought the speeding vehicle to a stop.

'I heard a really loud bang,' said Kelly, the homeowner's fiancée. 'I looked out the window through the open curtains, and saw particles and dust flying in the air. I thought maybe someone had run into the telephone pole.'

Rushing around the side of the property, Kelly said she tried to help the driver and passenger - but the driver screamed at her, 'Get the [expletive] out of my face', as he was struggling to crawl out of his car.

A Good Samaritan neighbor who declined to give her name said she, too, ran up to the car to aid the victims. 'When I got there, the man kept saying to the passenger, 'Mom, get out, get out of the car'. He looked at me and said, 'Don't call the police, don't call the police', and 'My gas pedal got stuck'.'

Another neighbor in the area, Tom Elliott, told us, 'After the crash, people who I think were his [the driver's] friends came running down from Foster Gardens Tavern [at the corner of S.E. Foster Road and S.E. 79th Avenue]. When they saw the police show up, though, they walked back. Look - they're still out back, watching.'

Many of the neighbors who heard or saw the result of the accident claimed the driver was inebriated; some say that he did indeed come from the tavern.

After being phoned by his fiancée about the smashup, homeowner Jason Radies left work to see what had transpired in his yard.

'My new cabana is totaled,' Radies said ruefully, and expressed concern for the occupants of the auto.

After learning that the accident victims' injuries didn't appear to be serious, and that his fiancée was OK, Radies looked back at his cabana. 'I've been working on it, a little at a time, for almost four years. It was going to be used for outdoor entertaining - I was maybe going to put in a Jacuzzi and a little bar.'

While the time, money, and energy he spent on the structure appears to be lost, Radies reflected, 'Before we built it, there was open yard here. The cabana probably stopped the car from coming through the yard and hitting the corner of the house where Kelly was resting in the back bedroom. The cabana may have saved my girlfriend - and perhaps a lot of damage to my house.'

Radies leaned over to pick up the Honda's front license plate - then tossed it back onto the ground. 'I had a crazy dream last night about something happening to the house. Maybe it was foretelling this; who knows? I feel kind of shaken.'

Both occupants of the vehicle were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and medical treatment.

Was this a case of bizarre mechanical failure - or simply another case of driving while intoxicated? Apparently the neighbors were on to something…

'52-year-old Steven Arthur Bailey was arrested on a charge of Driving while under the Influence of Intoxicants,' Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King confirmed to THE BEE the following day.