July 28, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
70°F
test

Car rams church; 6 injured

SHEFFIELD TWP. — Children playing in a Sunday school classroom had just left the room when moments later, a car with seven people in it rammed into a corner of Broadway Assembly Church, smashing a hole in the room’s wall and overturning tables.

Five children and the adult driver of the black Ford Fusion were injured taken to area hospitals. Four of the six injured, including the car’s driver, were flown to Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center for treatment.

According to the Elyria post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, the driver of the Fusion, Jose A. Guerra, 26, of Lorain, who does not have a valid driver’s license, sustained non-incapacitating injuries from the crash and was wearing a seatbelt. The six passengers were all children younger than 14 and five were hurt in the crash. Five of the six children were unrestrained, according to troopers, who said there were no booster seats in the vehicle. The car is designed to carry five passengers.

Guerra and a 6-year-old passenger were flown to MetroHealth, where they were still being evaluated early Sunday. A 7-year-old child and a 10-year-old child also taken to Metro were listed in fair condition by a hospital spokesperson early today.

Two children, ages 12 and 7, were taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center where they were treated and released, a hospital spokesperson said.

The seventh passenger, a 14-year-old girl, was not admitted to a hospital.

At 6:31 p.m. Saturday, troopers said the Fusion driven by Guerra was traveling southbound on Broadway when the vehicle went left of center and off the east side of the road.

The Fusion struck a mailbox, two traffic signs and an embankment before continuing across the church parking lot, striking landscape rocks, a mailbox and finally the church itself at 5495 Broadway.

The car stopped inches from the church’s gas meter.

“There was a church function inside the church at the time; however, no one was in the classroom where the damage occurred,” Ohio Highway Patrol report said.

Children heard the Fusion’s constantly beeping horn and alerted church members inside the fellowship hall.

Broadway Assembly’s pastor Matt Jones’ two children were inside the room moments before the car crashed.

His wife, Sara Jones, said she is thankful no one was sitting at the tables when the wall crumbled.

Julius Marrero, 6, of Lorain, was one of the first to witness the damage.

“I saw the car and it came in, and I saw the table fall,” Julius said as he and others stood outside the church.

As church members stood inside the Sunday school classroom, everyone seemed to express the same thought — the accident could have been a lot worse.

“God was looking out for them today,” Sheffield Township Fire Department chief Joe Bandagski said, referring to the children who were playing inside the classroom.

Troopers are still investigating the crash, and charges are pending, but alcohol and drugs are not suspected as a factor in the crash.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7155 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com.