SALEM, Ore. — She was winding down the night in her bedroom when she first heard the crash.
At first, she thought it might be thunder until she heard screams bouncing off the wet pavement on the quiet 500 block of Sussex Avenue SE.
Natalya Cudahey looked outside and saw her neighbor’s tree was upside down and there was a gaping hole where a garage used to be. An SUV had driven through the side of the neighbor’s garage and into the back of their house.
“You don’t think for life, you just go,” Cudahey said.
Cudahey bolted from her home and tried running through the hole, but was stopped in her tracks by a jumble of electric wires and water.
The garage was a “zig-zag” of rubble, so Cudahey ran through the front door, where she found a man and his two sons.
The man was trying to search through the rubble, looking for his wife, Srabonti Haque. 36, who had been asleep in a bedroom.
“I tried to get in the room where her husband said she was in, but you couldn’t even recognize the walls from the car, or the car from the furniture,” Cudahey said. “It was just like somebody dropped a bomb in the house.”
While Cudahey tried searching for Haque, the driver of the SUV, Alan Patrick Jacobs, 54, was sitting on the front yard, with his hands gripping his head.
“He was screaming, ‘I can’t believe I did this,'” Cudahey said. “He stayed in his one spot, right where those flowers are now.”
Jacobs had been driving his 2015 Mercedes SUV southbound late Monday when he drove off the roadway and into the residence, killing Haque, according to the Salem Police Department.
Cudahey, a mother of two children of her own, said she didn’t want Haque’s children to be traumatized further from witnessing any more of the scene, so she took the two boys back to her home across the street.
“It was instinctual,” Cudahey said.
The boys were barefoot in pajamas and were clutching their own blankets when they settled in Cudahey’s home as police restricted the scene with red tape.
Haque’s husband soon joined his sons in Cudahey’s home, where police interviewed both families as part of the investigation.
The Haque family did not leave Cudahey’s home until after 1:30 a.m.
Two days after the crash, crews were working to cover the holes in the house with plywood. Passersby could still look through the house and see a broken table, an ice cooler and a mattress on its side in the distance among the debris.
Bouquets of flowers are sitting atop beds of snow in front of the residence. Cudahey said the Creekside Home Owners Association has coordinated with neighbors to leave flowers out of respect for the family.
“The family has friends but we wanted them to know that we feel for them and we mourn with them,” Cudahey said.
Jim Gehring, a resident who lives a couple blocks away from the house, stopped to see the damage Wednesday after learning about the fatal crash.
“I’ve been here since 2001 and we’ve had some (side-swiping) incidents, but nothing like where drivers would run into a house,” Gehring said.
Salem Police Department has not made any arrests.
The Salem Police Department’s traffic control unit is working to reconstruct the scene, said police spokesman Lt. Dave Okada. The crew is working to determine the speed of Jacob’s vehicle and look at any possible factors that may have caused the crash to occur.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com