Police still seeking man who drove car into Garner home

kjahner@newsobserver.comMarch 12, 2013 

Scott Mizelle and a friend look for items that can be salvaged fromhis destroyed home. He was home alone when a car crashed into his house, causing a gas explosion that would eventually burn the house down.

KYLE JAHNER — kjahner@newsobserver.com

Garner resident Scott Mizelle didn’t know the crash that woke him was a car slamming into his house and triggering a gas explosion early Sunday morning. And police still don’t know who drove that car into Mizelle’s house and fled.

Fortunately, Mizelle escaped with his two dogs before fire consumed his home on Elkhorn Road at Timber Drive.

“It shook the whole house,” he said. “I had no idea a car hit the house. I just thought the gas line exploded.”

Lt. Wayne Moore of the Garner Police Department said the case was being investigated as a hit and run. He also said the owner of the car was not a suspect. The owner reported, however, that others did have access to the car, and Moore said not all of those people had been located and interviewed.

He did not release any further information on the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

At the house, indentations in the grass track where the car jumped the curb before curving around a tree in the side yard and crashing into the side of the house facing Timber Drive. The path suggests the driver had turned left from the southbound side of Timber Drive toward Elkhorn Road before bypassing it and driving into his house.

Mizelle marveled that there appear to be no skid marks along the path taken by the car. The two ruts in the soil where the curb was jumped are the only obvious signs that a car passed through his side yard. A different, deeper path made by the car’s extraction is carved more perpendicular to Timber Drive.

“He didn’t even brake,” said Mizelle, taking a short break from his efforts to salvage what little he could from the roofless two-story house on Monday.

Mizelle said the car had slammed into his dining room around 4 a.m., igniting the explosion that burned the entire upstairs and most of the downstairs area. His bedroom was on the second floor on the far end on the side opposite the crash. He made multiple trips in and out of the house to save his dogs.

Saddened to lose his home of 10 years, the civil engineer said he was grateful he was able to get his dogs and himself to safety, “the only thing I was worried about.”

Garner Volunteer Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Steve Williams, who was part of the cleanup crew, said three engines responded from Garner and one from Fairview. Police blocked stretches of road around the corner lot until the Public Service Gas Co. could stop the flow of natural gas.

“When you have a gas leak, it’s safer to let it burn because it’s getting rid of the gas,” Williams said. “But we still have to attack the fire.”

The entire roof collapsed, and much of what the fire didn’t destroy in the lower floor suffered severe water damage. The house will have to be razed, Mizelle said.

Meanwhile, the car that caused the accident he said had been burned beyond recognition – though Mizelle said “I think it was blue.”

“The police asked me if I saw the guy running out of the car and I said, ‘What car?’” Mizelle said. “They said, ‘The car sticking out the side of your house.’”

Jahner: 919-829-4822

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