Shaunda Swartz holds her son Daniel while standing beside her husband Garrick inside their home at 510 Hamilton St. (Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
An 8-month-old child’s life was narrowly spared when a vehicle crashed into a family’s bedroom at 510 Hamilton St. around 1:45 a.m. Thursday.
“The worst thing was finding my baby had been thrown across the room and up against the dresser,” said Shaunda Swartz, mother of Daniel Swartz. “It slung his crib all the way across the room.”
While Daniel was being checked out at the hospital, Swartz said she regretted placing him on her bed to feed him 20 minutes prior to the crash instead of leaving him in the confinement of his crib.
Because a night light had been shattered, rendering the room dark, it was unknown to Swartz at the time of the crash that a TV had landed inside Daniel’s crib.
“When my husband (Garrick Swartz) came to the hospital, I was crying and I said ‘I shouldn’t have put him in bed with me because he got thrown out of the bed,’ ” said Swartz, who had left the bedroom before the crash momentarily to check on her husband who was watching a movie in the living room. “If I had not gotten Daniel up, it would have killed him for sure.
“He had a good little knot on his head, but it could have killed him,” Swartz said. “It could have seriously broken some bones. Other than that knot on his head, he seems to be pretty OK.”
Swartz said she didn’t have time to notice the TV in her son’s crib because emergency personnel asked her family to leave the home quickly.
“I was rushed out of the house because the fire department had come and said there was gas leaking into our bedroom from her car,” Swartz said. “They were worried it could blow up. They got us out as quick as possible.”
Johnson City police charged Jonesborough resident Jessica A. Myers, 21, with driving under the influence and failure to comply with the financial responsibility law.
According to a report, Myers had been drinking and hit a curb twice before her green 2007 Chevrolet HHR left the roadway, went over the sidewalk and crashed into the left side of the home. Before she was taken to Johnson City Medical Center, Myers was trapped inside the vehicle with an incapacitating injury and had to be extricated, according to the report.
The impact, which Swartz described as feeling like an earthquake, shoved the home nearly a foot off its foundation. Swartz also said she was unable to open her front door while being evacuated.
“The beams in our basement that support the floor are sideways,” Swartz said. “It shook my whole house. It knocked the groceries out of the refrigerator and onto the floor.”
Property owners Debi Posadas, Shaunda Swartz’s mother, and Ronnie Peters said they now fear the house will need to be torn down.
“My next step is to contact the insurance company,” Peters said Thursday afternoon.
Fearing that something like this could happen, attempts to safeguard renters of the home have been made, but requests for a guardrail have been ignored by city officials, Posadas said.
“We have tried for several months to get them to put one up,” Swartz said. “People fly down that road right there.”
As the last house on Hamilton Street, Swartz’s home sits in the crux of a curb on the newly added stretch of University Parkway connecting West State of Franklin Road to West Market Street.
Posadas and Swartz said they are disappointed that something had to happen before action on putting up a guardrail is possibly or finally taken seriously.
“It’s right there not only by the college, but there are a lot of bars downtown and people get to having a good time and they don’t think about how fast they are going, especially when that red light at the top of hill is green,” Swartz said. “It worried me for a while that someone could flip their car and take out my entire bedroom.”
Regardless of the need for a guardrail, Posadas said her daughter and her family need a home.
“My mission is to get a guardrail, but my daughter doesn’t have a home,” Posadas said. “She is now down at my house with the baby and her husband.”
Posadas and Swartz said they thank God fully for the blessings they were counting Thursday after the nearly fatal incident.
“God had his hand on that baby,” Posadas said. “We are so thankful to God and for all the police and firemen that were there. They have been so good to us. We tell Daniel that there must be something that God wants him to do.”
Swartz said having Daniel was a miracle from the beginning and she is glad to still be able to hold him in her arms.
“We waited a long time for that little blessing,” she said. “It could have been sucked away from us easily last night and we’re very thankful that it didn’t.”
The lesson Swartz hopes everyone learns as a result of the crash is to be more aware of how actions can affect others, especially while driving.
“I just want people to remember that along the streets they ride down, children are there in those homes,” Swartz said. “We all need to be conscious of what we are doing whenever we are doing it.”
Any donations for the Swartz family can be sent to North Street Church of Jesus Christ at 900 North St.