"It sounded like a bomb going off," said Robin Lewin minutes after a truck being pursued at high speed by local law enforcement slammed in her home at 28 South Main St. in the City of Batavia.
"You should see that one wall. All of my family’s pictures came flying at us. We were at the desk. The whole house shook. It was like, what’s going on?"
Lewin and her mother, Barbara Watyrstrew, who was visiting,
her teenage daughter, Danielle (Danielle was not at home at the time) had to immediately evacuate the house, which was knocked off its foundation, causing a gas leak.
The driver of the black Chevy 4x4 pickup truck, who has not yet been identified, was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital.
Investigator Kris Kautz of the Sheriff's Office said Deputy Ronald E. Meides spotted the truck allegedly speeding eastbound on Route 33 just west of Reed Road and attempted to initiate a traffic stop.
The truck wouldn't stop, and may even have speed up, with speeds hitting "triple digits," according to law enforcement officials.
The driver, identified by police after the chase (though his identity is not yet being released), had no known outstanding warrants, according to Det. Rich Schauf of the Batavia Police Department.
When it was apparent Deputy Meides was involved in a high-speed chase, more law enforcement joined in the persuit. Officer John Zola and Deputy Chris Parker managed to get spike strips down on Route 33 at Pearl Street Road moments before the truck arrived.
The strips, according to Parker and Zola, are designed to deflate car tires gradually so that hitting the spikes doesn't cause an immediate accident. By the time the truck hit the Oak Street Roundabout, its tires would have deflated to some extent.
Spikes were found in each of the truck's front tires, Parker and Zola said.
Said Kautz, “The operator refused to stop and the vehicle obviously came through here at too high of a speed to maintain control.”
Luz Castro was standing in front of 28 South Main -- she lives in the upper apartment -- waiting for her daughter's school bus when she saw a deputy and a police car whiz by heading westbound. Minutes later she saw the truck come flying through the roundabout, heading east, and as it came out of the curve at South Main, it was clear the truck was headed right for her. So she jumped out of the way just before the truck rammed the building right at the entrance to her apartment.
"It was just shock. Surreal. Crying. Just too much going on at once," Castro said.
Red Cross has been called in to assist Luz, Robin and Danielle. A city inspector is on scene determining how to safely remove the truck, which is may be the only thing holding up the house at this point.
"Life is a matter of seconds and inches and luckily her (Castro's) child wasn’t here getting off the bus at that moment," said Kautz.
UPDATE 8:13 p.m.: The driver of the truck has been identified as Louis M. Reeb, 19, of 40 E. Main St., Corfu. His injuries are described as non-life threatening. The house is owned by Charles Keif of Batavia. No charges have been filed, pending further investigation.