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Car plows into Cullen Park neighborhood house

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Posted at 2:05 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-24 18:43:42-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Leah Garcia had a rude awakening Friday morning.

Between 5:30 and 6 a.m., 66-year-old Garcia found herself suddenly awake thanks to a loud crash from outside. And "crash" couldn't be a more accurate way to describe what she saw.

When she went outside, Garcia found a 2017 navy blue Dodge Journey wedged between a treein her yard and the outside of her bedroom wall. A vehicle reportedly was stolen from a nearby apartment complex between 8:30 p.m. Thursday and 5:30 a.m. Friday, according to Corpus Christi Police Department Senior Office Travis Pace.

A fallen tree lays blocking the hole the car left in Garcia's home, the patch of yard next to it bruised by fresh tire marks.

"Everything was busted," she said, indicating the bedroom wall. "And I did have a new fence, and that's ..."

Also busted. Along with a collection of figurines she was slowly gifting to her granddaughter, and her water heater.

"I came out and the guy came around the corner," Garcia said. "He was holding his side and I stopped him and I said 'Please don't run. I am on Social Security, I have no house insurance,' and he said 'I just need to sit down and then he bolted.' "

She grabbed onto the man's shirt to keep him from escaping, but couldn't hold onto him.

"I don't know what I was thinking," she said. "He pushed me away and he ran. Ten years ago, I woulda kicked his butt."

Garcia said if it hadn't been for her next-door neighbor, her home could have sustained more damage.

"He had left the car in drive and it was smoking," Garcia said. "She got into the car enough to turn the car off to where it wasn't gonna blow up."

This isn't the first time Garcia said she has had property damage in the 40 years she's lived in her home on the 1100 block of Shepherd. Located in a winding Cullen Park neighborhood, off Airline Road between Alameda Street and McArdle Road, Garcia said this is the "third or fourth time" she's been hit by drivers taking the curve in front of her house too fast. She said one totaled one of her cars and hit the edge of her home; another hit a different car.

Garcia thought she'd solved the problem when she bought two large boulders and set them in front of her house, but apparently even those aren't foolproof.

She said she's tried to get speed humps installed on her street, similar to the ones on the streets leading up to hers, but it costs money and isn't financially possible for her. She doesn't currently have homeowners' insurance because her fixed income forced her to choose between it and Medicare coverage. As it is, she's currently saving to be able to make an appointment with a medical specialist.

"I'm exhausted," she said with a heavy sigh. "I'm so, so exhausted."

The City of Corpus Christi has a five-step qualification process for getting a speed hump installed. Those requesting one must make a formal request that includes a $100 non-refundable administration fee; live on a street that is eligible; have a petition signed by 66 percent of the owners on the affected street; and the proposed location for the speed hump must not be in front of a driveway, in an intersection or within 200 feet of a stop sign.

A crucial part of the process is funding. The city has $25,000 available annually for the construction for speed humps. If a street's speed hump is next in line, but the allotted $25,000 has been spent that year, that street moves to the top of the list for the next year, said Albert Quintanilla, the director of the city's Street Operations Department.

But the city has to deem the street as needing a speed hump. When it does its evaluation, Quintanilla said, they also gauge whether another technique or mechanism would produce the wanted effect: for traffic to slow down.

"We look at the street and see if other calming devices would work," he said. "Like rumble strips."

Otherwise, residents can pay $4,000 to have a speed hump installed.