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December 25, 2004

SUV plows into home

From: San Jose Mercury News - San Jose,CA,USA - Dec 25, 2004

By Chuck Carroll
Mercury News

A blind 88-year-old woman who had planned to spend Christmas Eve opening her cards and listening to holiday music had her simple celebration with her deaf daughter ruined Friday when an allegedly intoxicated driver smashed into her Santa Clara house, trapping her underneath debris.

Police and fire officials said Miriam Michael was lucky to escape with her life when a Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle driven by 23-year-old Erik Seaver of Santa Clara roared through the front bedroom wall at 3010 Ryan Ave. about 5 a.m.

Michael was trapped by the vehicle and large chunks of the wall that had fallen on her. Much of the vehicle came to rest inside the bedroom, part of it on the bed. The car's front wheel stopped about a foot from her head.

Michael said she feels ''very lucky'' to be alive. A brick from the exterior of the house struck her on the head, just inches from her left temple, leaving a nasty gash.

''This is a heck of a way to spend the holiday weekend,'' she said ruefully. Michael had saved all her Christmas cards and was going to open them Friday night. ''I didn't have any big plans, but I was looking forward to listening to the Christmas music tonight.''

Authorities said Michael had to be extricated from the rubble by firefighters. She was treated at the scene for minor injuries and sent to Valley Medical Center for a couple of hours of observation before being released.

Seaver was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence. He was not injured. It was unclear why he veered to the right as he neared a sharp left curve on Ryan Avenue and slammed into Michael's house, where she has lived since 1957.

Santa Clara police Lt. Jim Buchanan said the crash remains under investigation. Anyone who witnessed it or has information is asked to call the Santa Clara Police Department at (408) 615-4700 and ask for the Traffic Investigations Unit.

A neighbor, Marleas Smith, said she was the first person on the scene. She said she knew someone was speeding down the street even before she heard the loud crash that sent her running outside with no shoes.

When she arrived just outside the house, Smith said she could hear Michael asking Seaver to help her and then insisting he call 911, which he did.

The house had to be shored up by firefighters so it wouldn't collapse further. Then they boarded up the gaping hole in the front wall after the Explorer was towed off.

Hours later, a tired Michael sat in a car in the driveway of her house waiting for her brother to finish gathering up clothes for her and her deaf 65-year-old daughter, Marvene, who lives with her mother and was not injured. They didn't know where they would be staying the night and were worried about being able to find a hotel room on the holiday weekend.

But the police found them a room for at least the next few days, until the house, which is insured, can be made habitable again. Neighbors came by to check on Michael and offer their help.

''I told her, when she beds down tonight, to say a prayer,'' said Buchanan. ''She has a lot to be thankful for.'' Contact Chuck Carroll at or (408) 920-5206.

© 2004 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.