Young mother dies after losing control of SUV, striking house
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The debris gives barely a hint of the force that jolted Betty King and her son, Kenny from a deep sleep just past midnight.
"It was just heart-wrenching," she says "And all the while I was just praying -- with tears in my eyes."
"I mean, just like boom! You know, like a bomb," Kenny King says.
The stop sign at Laura Street and Dodson Avenue is sheered off at street level.
The fire plug, plucked and dragged into the yard of the corner house, next door. All put there, Chattanooga Police say, when 31-year-old Shamecta Heard lost control of her SUV, crossed the parking lot of the Avondale Church of Christ, and slammed into the front wall of 2117 Laura Street just as Christmas was giving way to Boxing Day.
"Folks had moved out when storms damaged the roof," Kenny King says. "We thought this old homeless man might have been sleeping on the porch."
The man hadn't taking up roost yet. That would be the only good thing.
"It (the SUV) had flipped over," Betty King says. Actually it must have went into the porch and flipped over!"
"It looks like they were trying to avoid the power pole," Kenny King says.
"They were hollering, 'I don't see her," Betty King says.
"They" were Heard's family.
"They must live close because they beat the police here," Betty says. "They were looking up under it, to see if they could see her."
Heard's daughter and a friend were in the passenger compartment. They've been treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
But Heard wasn't wearing a seatbelt. The impact threw her from the vehicle and trapped her underneath.
No one could save her.
"I just hate that something had to happen--to somebody like that," Kenny says.
By early afternoon, CPD's crash reconstruction team is on scene. Early indications point to speed as a probable cause.
"Maybe they should put up more signs down in the trees leading up Dodson," Betty says. "Maybe people would slow down."
But nothing, Betty King says, will answer the 'why' that grieving loved ones will ask of themselves. She barely has begun to heal from her own recent loss.
"I just lost a daughter three months ago," she says. "We had to look beyond--- to celebrate her life and what she meant to us."
"Just be glad; that she was allowed to be with us as long as she was."