Local News

Day-Care Center to Reopen After Being Damaged by Stolen SUV

Posted April 23, 2007 4:05 a.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2007 6:03 p.m. EDT

— A stolen sport utility vehicle careened into a day-care center early Monday, forcing officials to close the center.

A Buick Rendezvous was traveling more than 90 mph when the driver lost control of the vehicle at the intersection of Avent Ferry Road and Trailwood Drive shortly before 2:30 a.m. Monday, police said. The vehicle struck a sign before going down an embankment.

The SUV hit a power pole, rolled over several times and crashed into Method Child Development Center, 900 Trailwood Drive, police said.

"Just to walk in and see my 4-year-olds' classroom in shambles is just overwhelming. It's just devastating," said Diane Heinze, the center's director. "It was in shambles. There was glass everywhere, chairs everywhere, and there's this vehicle halfway in the center. It was overwhelming. It was like a big storm had some in and taken the classroom away."

But Heinze said she was grateful the wreck didn't occur during school hours.

"I would have had 18 children in that classroom with two staff members, children coming in and out. I don't even want to think what could have happened," she said.

Method Child Development officials worked with state inspectors all day Monday to repair the damage enough to reopen the center Tuesday morning.

The building sustained about $25,000 in damage, police said. Damage to the SUV was estimated at $20,000, while repairing the utility pole will cost about $2,000, police said.

According to the police report, a witness saw three men and a woman around the vehicle, but he was unsure which person was driving the vehicle. By the time authorities arrived at the scene, the people were gone.

"There were some people in the car that ran. With the identifying information on the vehicle, the officer was able to determine it was a stolen vehicle," said Jim Sughrue, spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department.

Ramona Franklin reported the car stolen on April 16 and said the whole incident isn't fair to her or the day-care center.

"Someone had the audacity and the gall to take something that doesn't belong to them," Franklin said. "(The) joyride cost somebody else's business (and) could have caused somebody else's demise. Somebody could have died."

There were no reports of any injuries. There were also no signs of alcohol inside of the vehicle.