Stolen car slams into children's North Tampa bedroom at Puritan Place Apartments, driver flees

12:22 PM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Car crashes into family's apartment, driver flees

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TAMPA, Florida -- Hillsborough County deputies believe they've identified the suspect who stole a Lexus and smashed it through a North Tampa apartment on Thursday morning, but an arrest has not yet been made.

The crash happened around 1 a.m., when the driver lost control while heading westbound on Puritan Road near 50th Street. The car jumped a curb, plowed down bushes, barreled through a fence around the Puritan Place Apartments, and drove through a yard before coming to rest inside a bedroom where two little girls normally sleep.

PHOTOS: Car crashes into Tampa apartment complex

Just by luck though, the children were sleeping in the apartment's living room.

"I'm glad they slept on the sofa," said neighbor Tina Clark. "That's a blessing from God. Miracles every day."

Clark had no idea about the crash until we knocked on her door. She didn't hear a sound when the car slammed into the apartment directly next to hers. Neither did Toni Gomez, who lives on top of the impacted apartment. Clark's daughter, Alexis, heard what sounded like a clap of thunder. It was so soft though, she said, that she only checked to make sure her six-month-old son was okay before going back to sleep.

"My dad said this was going to happen one day, that people speed around here so much and they were going to run right into our apartment, and look what happened," she said.

Ian Akins was sitting at a nearby bus stop early Thursday morning, waiting for someone to pick him up. By the time he saw the car veer out of control, he said, it was already headed toward the apartment complex.

"I just saw the back of it going through the bushes," he recalled. "I'm glad I wasn't standing on the corner. The story may have been about me."

Neighbors hope the story will now be about sending the suspect a message.

"What's the point of stealing the car?" Alexis Clark asked. "And then you do something horrible like that and then leave the scene. Didn't even try to see if anybody was okay. That's just flawed."

The crash caused an estimated $25,000 in damage to the apartment, and $10,000 in damage to the car.

The Red Cross has assisted the displaced family.

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