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June 23, 2021

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Car drives through garage wall at Vancouver home

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
8 Photos
Police investigate at the scene after the vehicle came to a stop at Marrion School Park after crashing through a nearby garage Friday morning, Feb. 18, 2021.
Police investigate at the scene after the vehicle came to a stop at Marrion School Park after crashing through a nearby garage Friday morning, Feb. 18, 2021. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Michael Kartheu said his knee was swollen and growing in size after he fell, dodging a stranger who plowed a stolen vehicle through the back garage wall of his Marrion neighborhood home Friday morning.

“I’m probably going to have to go to the hospital,” Kartheu said, standing in his garage later that day.

There was a large hole in the wall, from floor to ceiling, where a door that leads to a concrete patio once stood. The door was lying on the patio surrounded by shattered glass, plastic and wood.

Vancouver police officers were dispatched at 9:01 a.m. to Kartheu’s home on the 900 block of Northeast 98th Avenue for a suspicious circumstances call.

Kartheu had called 911 to report his brief interaction with an unknown man behind the wheel of a clunky-sounding Subaru.

Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said the man accelerated into Kartheu’s garage and through the back wall.

The driver continued through a fence and into the park south of Marrion Elementary School, according to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian.

Police converged on the vehicle, but it had been abandoned. They set up a containment area and sent out a police canine to search for the driver. According to Kartheu, he was found several blocks away. Law enforcement returned to the home, and Kartheu said he identified the man.

Carjacking case

The unusual series of events started as a carjacking in Hazel Dell, according to a news release from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, which identified the driver as Junior Herman, 21.

Deputies responded at 8:42 a.m. to a vehicle theft in progress at 7900 N.E. 18th Ave. The victim reported that a stranger armed with a machete had robbed him and made threats to kill him before taking off in his vehicle. The armed assailant crashed through a fence and sped off, the sheriff’s office said.

What followed were the events at Kartheu’s house.

Kartheu said the man first pulled into his neighbor’s driveway; he was in his garage with its door open, because his wife had left moments earlier to pick up groceries. The man was shouting, “Please help me. Please help me. My daughter’s dying,” the homeowner said.

However, there was no one else in the car. Kartheu said it appeared the man was under the influence of something.

Kartheu asked the man if he’d called police for help, and the man responded yes. He told him he was unable to help, as his pickup truck is inoperable. Kartheu went out to his back patio, and moments later, the Subaru came crashing through the wall.

The car veered to the right and continued to drive along the back of Kartheu’s home before running through a chain link fence and into Marrion School Park south of the elementary school.

Kartheu said he was still recovering from his fall, so he didn’t see the man get out of the car and run away. It didn’t take long before what seemed like dozens of police cars were on his street, he said.

Neighborhood search

The sheriff’s office said Herman ran into a neighborhood at Northeast 10th Street and 100th Avenue. While law enforcement searched for him, he allegedly committed two residential burglaries before he was found hiding in a tree.

Herman was arrested on suspicion of multiple crimes, including burglary, hit-and-run, theft and robbery, according to the sheriff’s office.

The damage caused by the vehicle knocked out Kartheu’s TV and internet. The homeowner said the impact may have caused serious damage to the garage’s structure. Luckily, the living space of his ranch-style home appears to be unaffected.

He’s already called his insurer. In the short-term, a firefighter said responders would return to cover up the hole in the garage.

In the years Kartheu and his wife have lived in the house, they haven’t had any issues with crime or unwanted visitors. Friday’s incident left him feeling befuddled and sore.

Columbian Breaking News Reporter