Truck slams into home
February 7, 2014
By Emily Heffter
Seattle Times staff reporter
Brett Wedewer and his wife were asleep in their million-dollar Sammamish house at about midnight Jan. 24 when they heard what sounded like a bomb going off.
“We jumped up and ran to the window to see what the hell happened,” Wedewer said.
The back of a white pickup was sticking out of his dream house near the intersection of Southeast 32nd Street and 220th Avenue Southeast, the house he and his wife had custom-built and moved into two days after Christmas.
The couple pictured their 18-month-old son learning to ride a bike on the sidewalk there.
By the time Wedewer got his pants on, he heard tires squealing.
When he got downstairs, the truck was speeding away, and the smell of natural gas was filling the air.
Wedewer realized the truck had hit the house’s main gas line.
He and his wife, Staci Martin, scooped up their toddler and evacuated the neighbors.
“We thought the whole place was going to blow up,” Wedewer said.
Fortunately, when firefighters arrived, they were able to shut off the gas.
Now the family is staying with Martin’s parents in Kirkland while they wait to see what will come of their home, and how much of it they will have to rebuild.
The pickup that smashed into the house left a trail of insulation dust from the home for about a mile, police told Wedewer.
Wedewer found the truck’s grille in the rubble of his office — a Ford Super Duty is out there somewhere without a grille – but police said the driver could be anywhere by now.
The house has a hole in it that Wedewer estimates is 15 feet by 10 feet.
Wedewer’s home office was destroyed. Just an hour earlier, he was working on his computer in that room.
“Had I stayed there,” he said, “I would have been killed.”
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @EmilyHeffter
Residents say fears came true
A truck crashing into a house is an extreme example, but it’s just the sort of thing Sammamish residents have feared since a barricade on Southeast 32nd Street was removed in 2011.
The barricade was taken out after a contentious process. Residents on the street were generally opposed to its removal, citing increased traffic flow. Residents further away were often supportive, citing a new route to 228th Avenue, which would save them commuting time, and in some cases, reduce traffic on other nearby roads.
When the barricade was taken down, the city installed a series of traffic-calming measures to the east of where it had been, but did nothing on the west side. The house that was hit is west of the former barricade.
“We’ve tried for so long to get anything done,” said Karyl Breedlove, who lives next to the house which was hit. “I don’t know what it will take.”
In January 2013, residents came to the City Council asking for some traffic-calming measures to be installed to the west of the former barricade, specifically asking for stop signs and speed bumps.
At the time, the council discussed the issue briefly, but no action followed.
Breedlove said the neighbors were loaned radar guns, but they didn’t do much to help.
“We don’t feel like it’s our responsibility to get out there and do the traffic,” she said.
Breedlove said she had seen police in the neighborhood clamping down on speeders, but they haven’t been around for months.
Sammamish Police Chief Nate Elledge explained police do routine speed patrols in the neighborhood, as they do in other neighborhoods around the city. However, there’s only one traffic enforcement officer in a city of nearly 50,000 people, so rotating that officer around means people are not likely to see police often.
He said that when officers have been in the neighborhood, they notice speeding in the area is no more or less prevalent than in other parts of the city.
It is unclear if traffic-calming devices would have prevented the truck from slamming into the home, he said.
Elledge noted the time of the accident – around midnight – and speculated the driver may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He also noted there is a stop sign nearby.
“Apparently, the guy didn’t stop and went right into the house,” Elledge said.
He said the police department does not plan to do accident reconstruction, and does not have a sense of the speed the truck was traveling when it hit the house. He noted that even at relatively slow speeds, damage can be severe.
— Ari Cetron
Police seek truck
Sammamish police are looking for any information people may have about the truck that hit the house.
The truck is described as a white pickup, likely something similar to a Ford F-250 or F-350, the larger sort of trucks often used in construction or similar trades.
Police Chief Nate Elledge said detectives were on the scene shortly after the incident. They were able to follow the vehicle’s tracks, which Elledge said were more like a debris field, as far as 228th Avenue before the trail went cold.
He said police have already used vehicle registration information to search similar trucks registered in Sammamish, but had not turned up anything. Officers continue to work the case, Elledge said.
Anyone with information about the incident should call the Sammamish Police Department at 425-295-0770