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Vehicle crashes into Petaluma house, displacing family of eight

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A Petaluma family of eight, including four children, had to move from their eastside home early Wednesday after an SUV driver plowed through one garage wall and almost through another, severely damaging the structure, according to Petaluma fire.

It was the second time in about two weeks that a driver hit the Maria Drive house, which sits at a corner with Lauren Drive near East Washington Street. The first crash caused minor damage to the house after a driver hit the front corner of the garage, said Petaluma Fire Capt. Jude Prokop.

Seven family members were inside Wednesday at about 7:30 a.m. getting ready for their day when the latest accident happened.

A Honda CRV came up and over the lawn and punched through a wall into the garage and partially through a wall on the other side, leaving a second large hole.

“There were a bunch of people in the house. Fortunately nobody was hurt,” Prokop said.

The driver was able to get out of her vehicle on her own. She also didn’t appear to be injured.

The holes put the structure at danger of collapse and Wednesday afternoon a contractor was there doing emergency shoring. City building inspectors responded and determined the house needed to be “red tagged,” meaning no one can stay there.

“It’s uninhabitable. It’s going to need some significant work,” Prokop said.

With just a few weeks before Christmas, the family, which includes an adult brother and sister and their children, now has no home. The Red Cross is helping them with temporary housing and the Petaluma Fire Department, in conjunction with the California Fire Foundation SAVE program, gave the family a $250 gift card.

“It’s just before the holidays,” Prokop said.

Petaluma police are investigating the incident, but didn’t respond Wednesday to requests to elaborate on the cause of the crash.

The first accident happened Nov. 17 a little after 2 a.m., CHP Officer Marcus Hawkins said.

That morning, CHP officers noticed a car on Highway 101 near College Avenue was weaving in and out of the lanes. Officers attempted to pull the car over, but instead, the driver accelerated. Officers initiated a pursuit that lasted several minutes and reached speeds as high as 90 miles per hour.

The driver, who was later identified as Petaluma resident Cesar Miranda- Mendoza, 19, ran at least four red lights after he exited the highway on Petaluma Boulevard North. He eventually collided into the Maria Drive house, as well as a nearby fence, Hawkins said.

After the collision, Miranda-Mendoza fled the area and attempted to hide in the backyard of a house on Lauren Drive, Hawkins said. Officers located him and arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving, resisting arrest, attempting to evade a peace officer, hit and run and driving with no insurance.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or chantelle.lee@pressdemocrat.com.

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