BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dawn and Bruce Henderson believe they are lucky to be alive, after an SUV slammed into their home with such force, it partially separated the house from its foundation.
But the couple feels they have been victimized twice: Their house sustained extensive damage, but the hit-and-run driver that has caused their grief is walking away, and they have to hope their homeowners insurance will help them put their home of 38 years back together.
It was about 4 a.m. on the morning of March 12, and while Bruce slept was asleep in bed, Dawn was relaxing in a chair, just inches from where the SUV slammed into the front corner of her house.
“I heard almost like a revving of a motor, and the next thing I heard was a big crash, things started falling,” Dawn recalled.
Bruce pointed at the damage to the front corner of the house, and its crumpled siding. The force of the crash caused the house to shift on its foundation, bending window frames, and jamming a side door closed.
“It is pushed back a few of inches,” Bruce said. “The center support beam that runs the full length of the house is cracked.”
Dawn is a cancer survivor and Bruce is on disability retirement. The South Buffalo couple raised their three daughters in the modest ranch style house, but they know the outcome could have been a lot worse.
They have an indoor gas meter, in the basement, just inside that front wall–just below where Dawn was sitting, and just inches from the point of impact.
“The city inspector, when he looked he said if he would have been over a few more inches, he probably would have came through the picture window,” Dawn said. “And took out the gas line, because the gas line is right there.”
After the accident Bruce saw an SUV pulling away, the SUV he believes hit the house. A short time later, Buffalo police recovered an SUV, and according to the police accident report, identified it as the vehicle that struck the Henderson’s home.
But Bruce couldn’t identify the driver, so no charges have been filed.
“Within 10 minutes they found the abandoned car, and an officer came back here and told them, ‘we found the car.’ The airbags were deployed,” Bruce said. “They said there was blood in the car, so whoever was in it is injured.”
A close call for Dawn, and she is frustrated that the driver of the SUV might evade any responsibility for this near tragedy.
“It’s kind of like they got away with this–they could have killed me,” Dawn said. “They could have blew up our house, they could have killed our neighbors. Why is nobody responsible for this, other than us?”
The investigation is testing Bruce’s patience, too.
“Somebody had to be driving it–it wasn’t a ghost,” Bruce said. “So somebody had to be in that vehicle, and if it belongs to that person–I was taught you own up to your mistakes.”
The South Buffalo grandparents now have to turn to their homeowners insurance to cover what inspectors estimate are going to extensive repairs.
We tried contacting the owner of the suspect SUV that has been impounded by Buffalo police, but nobody answered the door at the address listed in the police accident report.