tampabay.com

Car accident fuels a family's desire for change

By APRIL YEE
Published July 12, 2006


HILL 'N DALE - First the Mazda hit the Mustang. That car blew through the garage door and jacked up a freshly painted '72 Chevelle, which rammed a workbench into the wall of the bedroom where 8-year-old Ashley Lauer sleeps.

Luckily, she was in her mother's bed that Sunday morning.

The accident shook up a young family that hasn't had the easiest time at the end of high-speed Cammie Street, reviving their desire for speed bumps to deter fast drivers coming from SR 50.

Five years ago, the Lauers paid $24,200 for a home that had sold at nearly twice that amount before being repossessed. But to get rid of hypodermic needles and other drug debris, the family ended up gutting everything but the drywall.

Even if the street wasn't the safest, they wanted to stay. So far this year, two incidents - a battery and an aggravated battery - have been reported at their street corner, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The Lauers dug a goldfish pond in the front and a small pool in the back.

"We've had a good influence on this neighborhood," said Heidi Lauer, 33.

Michael Lauer, 38, considered moving his garage door from the front of the house to the side, so his driveway wouldn't look so much like a continuation of Cammie Street, where he has seen many drivers speeding.

Just last year, a motorcycle twisted itself around the mailbox.

"Snapped it in half like a toothpick," Heidi said.

A little grass might stop drivers from barreling into the house.

Now Michael wants to place three big boulders there.

Around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, Brad Inmon, 23, was driving home from a friend's house. His house is a five-minute walk from the Lauers.

But with a rain-slicked road, Inmon said, he lost control of the car at the stop sign. His foot slipped off the brake, and he careened into the right rear end of a 2005 red Mustang - Heidi's birthday present from Michael last year.

"What I heard was a crash, which is not unusual out here," Heidi recalled. "And then I heard a car alarm, which is not unusual out here."

Then she realized the car lights were trained on her house. Her husband was working at Bayport Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

Inmon was cited for careless driving.

The Lauers don't know how they'll pay for the damage. The Chevelle in the garage was uninsured. And a new garage door will cost them $1,600.

Hill 'n Dale residents have long complained of fast drivers, and in fact the Lauers once signed a petition for some speed bumps.

"People fly down here," Heidi said.

"The intersection here has been a really big problem for a long time," Michael said. "We figured it was a possibility, but what were the odds? Am I going to get struck by lightning?"

"Don't say that," Heidi said. She looked at the shattered glass on her driveway on Monday afternoon. Ashley was safe inside.

"This is just a huge reminder of all the things that could have happened," she said, "of how God protected us."