TAMPA - Hillsborough deputies are still trying to find a driver who plowed a late model Lexus right through the side of a Tampa apartment building early Thursday morning.
The incident happened at the Puritan Apartment Complex on Puritan Road and 50th Street N just before 1:30 a.m.
For some reason, the person driving the gold-colored four-door failed to negotiate a curve and crashed through a fence. The vehicle kept going and crashed into the first floor apartment, where we are told two young girls normally slept. Luckily, the two kids had fallen asleep on the sofa in the family's living room.
Ninety percent of the vehicle was inside the building, from the bedroom to the hallway by the time first responders arrived. But the driver had fled.
As neighbors saw the scene this morning, it was unsettling, even for those who had slept through it all at 1:30 in the morning. A few folks did hear the commotion, but couldn't believe what they were witnessing.
"At first, I heard impact, thinking it was two cars or what not, 'cuz you hear a car driving," said neighbor
Ryan Mitchell. "You don't expect it to be going into a building, you know?"
Mr. Mitchell told me that while he rushed to see if the folks inside Apartment A were OK, the driver tried in vain to back out of the ersatz garage, and finally fled on foot..
"Had to be whoever was driving… " he said. "They were looking to get out of here in a big hurry?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "If they took the license plate."
Investigators are trying to track down a suspect in what may turn out to be a stolen car. That part of the story certainly subordinate though to the kids, who -- along with the other two family members here have been offered temporary shelter through the Red Cross -- happened to be out of harms way, at just the right time.
"You know I hate that it happened to them," said neighbor Tina Clark. "But I am glad they slept on the sofa last night."