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Tire-squealing car plows through church gate; stopped by building

by: David F. Ashton Had the car not slid past this steel bollard, the obstacle might have ruptured the propane tank inside the trunk and caused a gas explosion.

Witnesses to this unusual single-car accident stood, stunned, looking at the aftermath on August 12.

A woman who claimed to be an eyewitness to the event, but chose not to give her name, described what happened.

'I was facing south, in aisle 6 at the Space Age gas station here on S.E. 52nd Avenue (at S.E. Duke Street). This car came past me, burning rubber, going in reverse. He was backing up at one hell of a speed.'

She couldn't see how far west the car was when its tires started squealing, and it took off like a shot from between the Hidden East Tavern and the gas station's market. 'But I could sure hear it. He was going so fast that his car was just a blur in front of me. Without slowing down, he shot out east across 52nd Avenue without slowing down a bit, and just missed hitting a couple of cars passing on the street.'

Gaining momentum, rather than slowing down, the white Honda then smashed through the industrial-strength metal gate at the Apostolic Faith Church's campground driveway, flew across the parking lot, and slammed into one of their buildings. Steel and concrete bollards kept the car from smashing in the wall.

'I walked over to look at him in his car. His head was just leaning against the steering wheel. I didn't know what to do, so I called 9-1-1.'

Portland Fire and Rescue's Woodstock Engine 25 crew arrived just as we pulled up. They helped an elderly-looking man from the car. He stood, looking bewildered.

On the passenger side of the vehicle, the yellow steel bollard had sliced into the trunk of the car and stopped at the back seat. Even more worrisome, on the driver's side of the vehicle, the crumpled-open trunk revealed at least one propane barbecue fuel tank.

'We believe the propane tank is intact,' remarked a firefighter.

What caused this potentially life-threatening wreck remains a mystery. 'The accident is listed as a 'non-injury', and police assisted in the exchange of information,' reported Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King. 'No arrests were made.'