Southeast cabana clobbered by tipsy yard-hopping driver

See exclusive photos of the Honda Civic that crossed the sidewalk, mowed down a chain-link fence, and plowed into a newly finished back-yard cabana. While his ‘man cave’ is now wrecked, see why the homeowner still feels fortunate about this odd crash …

Paramedics get ready to help the driver, and a woman who may be his mother, out of the car that collided with a homeowner’s new backyard recreational cabana, in the Foster-Powell Neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While many car crashes occur on dark, rainy nights, the odd smashup on SE 79th Avenue at SE Mitchell Street that took place on August 11 happened in a beautiful, sunny summer day – a little after 3:00 p.m.

The crash that planted the front end of a silver, 2006 Honda Civic into a newly-finished cabana up to the front door hinges seemed like an unusual accident to occur on a narrow side street. Yet, the extent of the damage was considerable.

For whatever reason, this car is almost half-way rammed into a cabana in  the back of the homeowner’s yard.

Using a driveway for a ramp, the northbound Honda – by some accounts going 45 MPH – apparently veered slightly eastward, up across the sidewalk. But instead of plowing into that house, it turned north as it mowed down the steel corner post of a chain-link fence – set in about three feet of concrete.

The side wall, studs, and sheetrock of the cabana brought the speeding vehicle to a stop.

“I heard a really loud bang,” said Kelly, the homeowner’s fiancée. “I looked out the window through the open curtains, and saw particles and dust flying in the air. I thought maybe someone had run into the telephone pole.”

With the driver’s door wedged closed, it took paramedics some time to help both occupants out of the passenger’s side of the wrecked vehicle.

Rushing around the side of their property, Kelly said she tried to help the driver and passenger – but the driver screamed at her, “Get the [expletive] out of my face” as he was struggling to crawl out of his car.

A Good Samaritan neighbor who declined to give her name said she ran up to the car to aid the victims. “When I got there, the man kept saying to the passenger, ‘Mom, get out, get out of the car’. He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t call the police, don’t call the police’, and ‘My gas pedal got stuck’.”

Although the path of destruction was short, look at the mess this accident caused for two neighbors.

Another neighbor in the area, Tom Elliott, told us, “After the crash, people who I think were his (the driver’s) friends came running down from Foster Gardens Tavern [at the corner of SE Foster Road and SE 79th Avenue]. When they saw the police show up, they walked back. Look – they’re still out back, watching.”

Many of the neighbors who heard or saw a result of the accident claimed the driver was inebriated; some say that he did come from the tavern.

Standing in his “backdoor neighbor’s” front yard, homeowner Jason Radies looks at the front license plate of the vehicle that plowed into his cabana, just a couple of yards away.

After being phoned by his fiancée about the smashup, homeowner Jason Radies said he left work to see what had transpired in his yard.

“My new cabana is totaled,” Radies said, and expressed concern for the occupants of the auto.

After learning the accident victims’ injuries didn’t appear to be serious, and his fiancée was OK, Radies looked back at his cabana. “I’ve been working on it, a little at a time, for almost four years. It was going to be used for outdoor entertaining – I was maybe going to put in a Jacuzzi and a little bar.”

While the time, money, and energy he spent on the structure appears to be lost, Radies reflected, “Before we built it, there was open yard. The cabana probably stopped the car from coming through the yard and hitting the corner of the house where Kelly was resting in the back bedroom. The cabana may have saved my girlfriend, and perhaps a lot of other damage to my house.”

Radies picked up and looked at the Honda’s front license plate before tossing it back on the ground. “I had crazy dream last night about something happening to the house also. Maybe it was foretelling telling this; who knows? I feel kind of shaken.”

We’re not sure how the metal fence posts got inside this car – many details surrounding this odd wreck remain a mystery.

Both occupants of the vehicle were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and medical treatment.

Was this the case of a bizarre mechanical failure – or another case of driving while intoxicated? Apparently the neighbors were on to something…

“52-year-old Steven Arthur Bailey was arrested on a charge of Driving while under the Influence of Intoxicants,” Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King told us the following day.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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