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Posted on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

Car crashes into church after gust of wind causes driver to lose control

By John Counts


Two women managed to escape injury after the driver lost control because of a gust of wind and crashed into a Chelsea church Tuesday.

John Counts |

Editor's note: The headline of the story has been changed for clarity.

Two elderly women were trapped in a car for a short time after a gust of wind caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle and end up on the porch of a Chelsea church Tuesday morning.

The women were stuck in the vehicle until a wrecker arrived to pull the car out of the church. They were not injured.

Chelsea police Chief Ed Toth said two women he described as "senior citizens" were southbound on Wilkinson Street between West Middle Street and Old US 12 at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday when they collided with the Hope Alive Church, located at 332 Wilkinson St. Toth said driving conditions at the time were "blustery" with 30 mile per hour wind gusts related to Superstorm Sandy which pummeled the East Coast Monday.


Two women were trapped for a short time in the car after crashing into the church's front porch.

John Counts |

“The church sustained most of the damage,” Toth said.

The church's pastor, Jeff Thomas, said police told him "a squall" caught the woman driver off guard. She lost control of the vehicle, which went off the road and up a neighboring driveway narrowly missing a utility pole.

The car ran over the church's sign on the front yard and came to a rest on the stairs and porch.

The women could not get out of the vehicle until a wrecker could arrive to pull it off the church's porch. They sat in the vehicle while it was stuck on the porch for several minutes until a tow truck arrived. One of the women was helped out of the vehicle with the aid of a walker.

The women were taken away in a Chelsea police patrol car because the vehicle had substantial front-end damage and was not drivable once dislodged from the porch.

"It's amazing," Thomas said about the women escaping injury. "It's a miracle."

Thomas said police told him the women were traveling around 30-35 miles per hour. He surveyed the damage to the church soon after the vehicle was towed and said the porch's support structure was affected, but he wasn't yet sure of any monetary damages.

There was also debris from the vehicle left behind.

"There's a headlamp in my bush," he said.

Thomas was just glad no one was hurt. He said police told him the women greatly regret the accident.

"They feel real bad," Thomas said. "They shouldn't."

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John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

No, Gladys,its like I showed you before. The send button is that green one there. the red one is for......There's no problem officer. Just a couple of seniors getting their Devil's Night fun in a little early. ...


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

"The church's pastor, Jeff Thomas, said police told him "a squall" caught the woman driver off guard." Those gosh darn squalls will get you every time. Especially around churches...


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

I did not realize that breaks do not work when it is windy out.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Mine haven't had a problem.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

Battle is not over yet... Good luck with explaining that to insuarnce! I have been hearing horror stories in MI about insurances giving people an extremely hard time on claims.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.



Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

Tomorrows Headline: " Local Woman crashes rental car into grocery store- says she was confused by how little wind there was "


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

Maybe a Thelma & Louise moment?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

Sobriety test?

Area Man

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

Wind strong enough to blow the car off the road, but not take down that "Alive" banner we see in the background.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

maybe that was put in after the fact to let first responders know they can take a more pressing call if needed?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

I could understand this if the wind gust originated within the car.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

I worked on the Mackinac Bridge accident--not sure alcohol was involved but the Yugo was racing with another car -- kind of a cat and mouse type thing. So speed was definitely a factor, which is why there is now a 45 mph limit while crossing the bridge.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

In the Mackinac Bridge "accident" I believe alcohol was a factor.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

@ music it was 1989, she was in a Yugo and was on the center grate section of the mackinaw in gale forces winds, she was not so much blown off the bridge as the wind came from under and lifted her car off the bridge and over the side. it was up and then out. that said that is a far cry from being blown off the road, in what appears to be a midsize (taurus, civic etc) and planting the front 1/3 of ur car into a church. What was the highest gust today? Yesterday it was 49 at the height of the wind. My bet is on a mistake in the right foot gas, left foot brake operation of the car. Glad everyone is OK thought.

music to my ear

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

remember about 6years ago some lady was driving it was windy.and the wind carried her over the bridge it was one of those small cars.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

I win again...


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6 p.m.

That pesky brake pedal is always in the way isn't it?

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

"Ride like the wind!" shouldn't always be taken literally.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Fortunately, no one out walking their dog got in the way of this runaway vehicle.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

"It's amazing," Thomas said about the women escaping injury. "It's a miracle." mmhmm... what caused them to lose control in the first place then? an inverse miracle?

Rick Stevens

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Misleading headline to be sure. I guess it's a hit chasing headline; becoming an specialty.

Julie Baker

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback. We've altered the headline for clarity.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.



Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

This church is not that close to the road, I'm thinking her foot was firmly planted on the gas pedal!

Jeff Frank

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

Speed limit is 25 on Wilkinson, too. She admits to going 30-35...wonder how fast it really was.

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Umm, yeah. It was the wind, officer! Gotta remember that one.