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Apartment residents return after Saturday mishap

SoVaNow.com / August 14, 2014
Most of the residents who were forced out of Willow Oak Apartments Saturday after a vehicle slammed into their building and ripped out a section of wall have been allowed to return home.

Only one apartment — which bore the brunt of the impact — remains off-limits due to the severity of the damage.

County building official Otis Vaughan said an inspection Monday turned up no structural problems with building unit 320, where the collision occurred, aside from the gash torn into the side of apartment B. The residents who have returned live in the unit’s other five apartments.

All told, 18 people were evacuated over the weekend as a result of the mishap. They had to wait not only for the results of the building inspection, but also for power to be restored to the building before they returned around 5 p.m. Monday.

Vaughan said his inspection showed no signs of stress cracks in the building, and even at the spot where a Ford van slammed into the building, the nearby window block was undamaged. “It looks a lot worse than it actually was, really,” said Vaughan.

The accident took place Saturday around 5 o’clock when the driver of the 2001 van, James Howard Burch of Crystal Hill, apparently blacked out as the vehicle was still moving. The van jumped the curb and plowed into the side of the building; the impact injured an occupant of apartment B, who required hospital treatment for her injuries.

Burch was charged with reckless driving by South Boston Police. Fire officials estimated that damage to the building could run as high as $100,000.

Affected families received shelter and other essentials from the local chapter of the American Red Cross.





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