Estimated 100-mph-plus car crash shatters more than glass and bricks
By Mike Nolan email@example.com July 4, 2013 11:14AM
Updated: August 6, 2013 6:25AM
When she tries to sleep, the sounds and images literally shake Jeanne Mercier awake.
A crash that sounds like a bomb, her panicked efforts to first figure out what is happening, and then to get out of harm’s way. It’s a horror movie that replays night after night.
“I still see myself in the chair, trying to get out,” said Mercier, who earlier this week made a half-hearted effort to celebrate her 79th birthday and relies on a cane to help her get around.
“You don’t know if you’re going to get out,” she said.
Mercier and her daughter, Kimberley Kogiones, who shares the house in Dolton with her mother, were following their normal pattern — staying up late and watching television — in the wee hours of June 30. Just after 1 a.m., according to police, a 2005 Chevy Corvette driven by a 19-year-old Riverdale man sliced through the wrought-iron fence surrounding the home, impaling itself in the lower-level window, just feet from the chair Mercier had been sitting in, watching TV.
Kogiones had just gone upstairs to the kitchen, washing up the dishes from their late-night snack.
“She thought it was gunshots or fireworks,” her mother said.
Their home is just east of Town & Country Park, where gunshots at night are not an uncommon sound, the women said.
“The blinds blew out at me,” Mercier said. “I’m totally numb.”
The driver backed out, then threw the ’vette into forward, slamming into the house again. He repeated that a third time before pulling away, abandoning the car a few blocks away.
In addition to the window — itself shielded by a wrought-iron screen — being smashed, leaving glass shards on the home’s lower level, dislodged bricks were piled outside the window.
Dolton police later charged Devonte Parker with speeding and leaving the scene of an accident, according to Chief John Franklin.
While not a heavy vehicle by any means, the low-slung Corvette, officers told Mercier and her daughter, was zooming along at more than 100 mph and literally became a flying wedge by the time it hit the house. Franklin said he was unsure how fast the car was traveling, but to do that much damage, “obviously he was going at a high rate of speed,” he said.
Originally from Midlothian, Mercier said she and her family first moved to Riverdale, then in 1982 to Dolton.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said. “The house was so sturdy.”
On the lower floor of the trilevel, just a few feet from where the car hit, framed photos — including one of her late husband, Lyle, with a string of rosary beads draped over the frame — sit undisturbed.
In front of their house, it’s always the Fourth of July, with red, white and blue bunting hanging on the wrought-iron fence and small, wood Uncle Sams clutching American flags.
“We always have the patriotic decorations out,” Mercier said.
She said the driver of the Corvette gave false information about his own insurance coverage, and she’s uncertain about whether her own insurance policy will restore her home.
Since the crash, “people we didn’t know, well-wishers” have offered their prayers and help in cleaning up, Mercier said.
She said she and her family have been through more than a body can bear, including severe illness and a failed sump pump that last year resulted in flood damage to her basement. Family members brought by a cake to celebrate her birthday, but with other events overshadowing the milestone, it still sits on her kitchen table, untouched.
Still, Mercier said, her faith supports her and tells her that, in the final reckoning, things will be put right.
“Everybody pays,” she said. “In my 79 years of living that’s what I know, but we don’t know why.”