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SUV crashes through South Haven house as family sleeps

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Updated: February 12, 2013 2:37PM



A South Haven family was forced to relocate to a Portage hotel after a Buick Envoy crashed into their house as they slept early Thursday morning.

Around 5:57 a.m., Jason Rivera and his wife, Jacqueline, were asleep in the front bedroom on the first floor along with their 17-month-old daughter, Adriana, when the car came through the wall, flipping their bed over and burying the girl’s crib under debris.

“I saw smoke and headlights, but my first thought was our baby,” said Rivera, who lives in the 600 block of Newport Road. “She didn’t cry at first, but when she did we were able to find her.”

Adriana was transported to Porter Hospital’s Portage campus to get checked out, but she did not sustain any injuries. Jason Rivera sustained a foot injury and his wife has a sore back.

The SUV was driven by Portage resident Joseph Tanner, 33, of Portage; Tanner and a passenger were taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart for treatment of injuries. Porter County police said they believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, but toxicology tests are pending. Tanner was not arrested.

“I don’t know why he’s not in jail, but I’m going to find out,” Rivera said.

Jason Rivera moved into the house a few weeks ago to help his father, Jimmy, whose wife was dying. Nine people, including four children, were in the home at the time of the crash. Jimmy Rivera was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom when the crash occurred, and he thought the roof was caving in.

“I’ll never forget that sound,” Jimmy Rivera said. “I walked out of the room and saw the truck idling at the bottom of the stairs.”

Jimmy Rivera said there were no brake marks in the yard, leading him to believe the driver didn’t know he was headed for a house.

It took a while, Jason Rivera said, but power was restored by NIPSCO on Thursday afternoon. Debris was removed by United Services and the house has been wrapped up to protect it from the elements.

Most of the house’s residents will be staying at a nearby hotel. Jason Rivera said it will likely be a month or so before the house is repaired.



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