Local News

No injuries, but extensive damage after driverless pickup slams into Durham home

Posted September 15, 2021 5:29 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2021 5:41 p.m. EDT

— A Durham home was seriously damaged Wednesday when it was rammed by a pickup with no one behind the wheel.

The incident occurred shortly before 6 a.m. in the 300 block of East Umstead Street.

"The bathroom tub was in the hallway, and all the walls were all just crumbled down," said Nicole Gaines, who was inside the house with her grandmother and uncle at the time. "I walked out of my room, and what used to be the hallway was no longer the hallway."

No one in the home was injured.

Police said a man on nearby Fisher Place had started his pickup and briefly left it unattended. Another man then tried to steal the running truck, and when the owner tried to stop the theft, the truck rolled through a wooded area and into the back of Gaines' grandmother's home, police said.

Gaines said she and other family members recently started taking turns staying with Jean Gaines, concerned about her safety in the Durham neighborhood.

"I said to her, 'We got to get out of here.' My uncle was there, and he said, 'Ma, get your things together so we can get out. We need to get out,'" Nicole Gaines said.

The house suffered extensive damage, and Jean Gaines lost several keepsakes, such as china and items her mother had given her, according to her granddaughter. But her spirit was intact.

"Us being around her is just more comfort, helping her to ease her mind, because she realizes it could’ve been her or one of us [hurt or killed] – or all of us," Nicole Gaines said.

Police said the would-be thief fled before officers arrived, and the truck owner was treated for minor injuries.