An elderly woman will be spending some time at local motel following a Tuesday night accident in which a pickup truck crashed through the living room of her trailer in Star Valley.
Neighbors rushed to the aid of 70-year-old Norma Spaur, who was trapped inside the 10-by-30 park model trailer, which was knocked three feet off its foundation from the impact. The driver and passengers of the vehicle fled the scene immediately following the crash, according to sheriff's detectives. Spaur was apparently shaken but not injured.
Detectives said that sometime Tuesday evening the suspects found the 1981 blue Ford 4WD 3/4-ton pickup with the keys in the ignition at a nearby home in Star Valley. They allegedly pushed the truck out of the driveway, then started the truck and took off on a joy ride that would end around 9:45 p.m. at the Houston Creek Adult RV Park on Moonlight Drive.
"The people that took it had to push it out of the driveway because (the owners) never heard it start," said Gila County Sheriff Det. George Ratliff, "and it does have loud pipes on it."
At the corner of where Rainbow Drive turns back into Moonlight, the driver of the vehicle swerved left and drove about two feet into Spaur's living room. From the damage inside the truck, investigators believe there were three suspects involved.
Spaur told deputies that normally, she would have been sitting on the couch in her living room at the time the accident took place, but a headache forced her to bed about 30 minutes before the crash.
"Most of us that live here heard a fast-moving car, and then a big 'wham,'" said park manager Mert Durham. "It's demolished. Part of her dining table is out on the porch. The couch under the window where it hit is hanging out of the sliding glass doors on the other side of the room."
Durham said Spaur was shaken from the accident, but uninjured. Once neighbors freed her from her trailer, chaos continued as residents discovered that the pickup had also knocked out the gas line leading to Spaur's home.
"It's a wonder we didn't have a big explosion," Durham said.
Detectives said the crash resulted in gas blowing into the truck, and into Spaur's trailer.
"It was so bad, you could taste it," Ratliff said. "The whole park is fed through underground pipe. One spark would have made a big hole in the ground."
"They told us to stay away," Durham said. "So I came down to the clubhouse to make coffee and build a fire so if they couldn't get it back on, people who had gas heat could come down here and stay where it's warm."
Durham said the gas was turned back on around midnight.
The suspects may face charges of unauthorized use of means of transportation and leaving the scene of an accident. Detectives said they have some leads, and the investigation is continuing.