This 2004 Honda Civic was parked next door before it was pushed into the next yard by a Ford Explorer driven by Josh Linares, Tuesday night. Jessica Palmer Photo
Three youths were issued arrest citations and one 17-year-old was arrested, Tuesday, when a joy ride ended in an accident that resulted in damages of more than $20,000 in the 1000 block of East Bland Street and forced the evacuation of 60 people from a local bingo parlor.
The saga began when teenagers grabbed two cases of beer from Albertsons on South Main Street. As one Roswell police officer took a report of the theft, a second saw the vehicle swerving at the intersection of Garden and Summit. “He flashed his lights and they sped up,” said RPD spokeswoman Sabrina Morales. According to the police, the officer followed the vehicle and then saw a large cloud of dust on East Bland and people running.
The Ford Explorer driven by Josh Linares, 17, knocked down a stop sign and side-swiped a light pole. The SUV drove through a vacant lot, through two chain link fences, struck a car in a driveway and pushed it into a neighbor’s lot, plowed down a third fence and hit a second vehicle before coming to rest on Bland Street.
One family estimates repair costs of $8,000 to $9,000, which does not include another $9,000 to replace the daughter’s car that was propelled into a neighboring yard and ended up perched precariously on a tree stump.
The accident also sheared off two trees and damaged a third so severely that it will have to be cut down. The front fence had been stripped completely off their property. They spent the morning picking up the debris. “We are just lucky no one was killed. My daughter had just gotten home with her kids. If the accident had happened 15 minutes earlier, they could have been killed.”
The woman said she had just walked to her house from the neighboring house five minutes before the accident occurred. “We were just sitting there minding our own business when we heard a noise. We went out to see what had happened. We smelled gas. Then we just got as far away as we could. We have internal damage to our gas line (between the easement and the house), so the gas is still leaking and we are going to have to call a plumber to get it fixed. When something like this happens, the family is left to foot the bill,” the victim said.
The residents questioned why the police refused to tow the car, which remains hanging from the stump. They believe it poses a safety hazard to area children. “We have two schools nearby. It could roll. … What if they decide to climb on it?”
Morales explained that it is RPD policy not to tow a vehicle that is on private property, even if it lands on someone else’s property.
The victim also stated she saw two little girls covered in blood go into Serenity Bingo at 1000 E. Bland St.
An eyewitness inside Serenity said two girls came into the establishment scared and crying. She described the scene as “very chaotic. We heard something. A lady shouted call 911, but the police were already there. We ran outside and you could smell the gas. Then we were told to evacuate the building.”
The arrests took place around 9:45 p.m. The area was cordoned off until 10:45 p.m.
One of the joy riders, Estrella Montantez, 15, was found standing outside the vehicle. Linares was so intoxicated he was barely able to respond to the officer. The driver was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Michael Montantez, 14, ran home after the crash. His mother took him to the hospital. The officer learned Victor Barron, 13, was also transported by ambulance to the hospital. All four received treatment for injuries that were described as minor.
Linares was charged with aggravated DUI, reckless driving, no license, no insurance, selling and giving liquor to a minor and no seat belt. Estrella and Michael Montantez were given juvenile citations for selling or giving alcohol to a minor. Barron received a juvenile citation for evading or obstructing an officer.
Charges for criminal damages that range into the thousands were not levied at the driver because, Morales says, criminal damage must show intent.
The victim remained forgiving. “I’m glad they were not hurt. I just hope the kids learned something from this experience. Don’t drink and drive.”