Family home no haven from traffic

Crash of vehicle into garage, which hurt boy, one of a series

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

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photoThe De Luca home has been hit three times by out-of-control vehicles in the past year; the family says the long straight road attracts "drag racers" in the middle of the night.

Josh De Luca is doing pretty well, considering the 3-year-old was catapulted across his family’s garage when a car slammed into the home on Sunday evening.

It wasn’t the first time a driver smacked his or her car into the De Lucas’ Salmon Creek home. In fact, the family had just finished repairs in their kitchen from the last time a car ran into their house at the intersection of Northeast 150th Street and Northeast 20th Avenue.

Sunday was the first time that anyone — besides the driver — was hurt in a crash, the family said.

Cody De Luca was preparing dinner Sunday night when a car, allegedly driven by Rajneel Singh, slammed into the family’s garage. Her husband, Steven, and son, Josh, were walking from the garage into the house when the incident happened. Steven was ahead of Josh, who stopped to pick up something on a table directly in front of the impact site, his dad said.

“We heard a low kind of crash, then it sounded like it exploded,” Cody said. She didn’t think that something ran into her garage; she thought something exploded inside it.

“At first, we heard something. Then we looked at each other,” Steven said. He then ran back into the garage, jumped over the pile of debris and looked for Josh. “The look on his face was indescribable.”

After being launched across the garage by a refrigerator and other debris in the crash, Josh appeared to be in pretty good shape. His father noticed a bit of blood on his shirt, but didn’t notice the gash in his head until later.

“I don’t know how he,” Steven said, pausing. “There were so many ways he could have,” he paused again. “It was a miracle.”

Back home

The De Lucas spent most of the evening at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, where doctors attended to Josh’s injuries. They got home sometime after midnight. Doctors asked the De Lucas to wake Josh up every once in a while to check on him.

They didn’t sleep much.

News crews from local TV stations had been at the home on and off since about 4 a.m., Cody said.

Monday afternoon, things were getting back to normal. Josh could be heard laughing in a back room with his dad. Pixar’s “Cars” — Josh’s favorite movie — was playing in the front room. Sometimes Josh will watch it 10 times in a row, Steven said, adding that the family took Josh to see “Cars 2” this year for his birthday — his first movie theater experience.

Josh was up and about and had no visible evidence of the ordeal from the night before. His wavy blond hair covered the four stitches used to close the cut in the back of his head.

“It’s amazing that he’s up walking and talking with only four stitches in the back of his head,” Cody said.

The De Lucas were blown away by their son’s calmness after going through what he did.

“He just dealt with it,” Steven said.

Josh’s grandma, Dorothy Mitchell of Portland, stopped by Monday afternoon to bring the family Burgerville fare and to see how her grandson was doing. She immediately put the food down and went to ask her grandson how he was doing.

“A car hit me,” Josh said.

“It hit you?” Grandma asked in a calm voice.

“In the head.”

“That’s not nice of him. Was it?”

“No,” Josh said.

Mitchell sat in silence, observing Josh while his dad talked to an electrician inspecting the house.

“The garage broke. The car broke it,” Josh told his grandma a few minutes later.

Frequently hit

Insurance claims and home inspectors are no strangers to the De Lucas. The family’s property has been hit by drivers three times in the past year.

The long, straight stretch of road attracts “drag racers” in the middle of the night, Cody said.

The garage was remodeled to be a play area for Josh because the family isn’t comfortable with him playing outside with the street’s track record. The family also had a concrete patio made in the backyard so Josh could ride his bike safely.

“I don’t even want to walk out to my car,” Cody said.

Steven had met with a landscaper on Sunday to talk about getting large rocks placed around his property’s perimeter to prevent drivers from launching into his home. That was three hours before the latest crash happened.

Damage to the home is second to their son’s health.

“He’s not his normal, exuberant self today,” Cody said.

Josh, who normally goes to preschool five days a week, had Monday off with both his parents. His dad is taking Tuesday off. His mom wasn’t sure when he’ll be heading back to school, but she did know one thing: “He’ll have quite a story to tell,” she said.