SPRING HILL — As he watched a wrecker haul a Ford out of the family room of a ranch home on Linden Drive on Monday afternoon, Pastor John Hensel figured divine intervention must have helped avoid a tragedy.
"I definitely believe the Lord had his hand on things here," Hensel said. "As bad as the car is and as bad as the house is, it could have been a lot worse."
No one was seriously injured Monday when the 2003 Focus driven by Brandon Timothy Gaither of Spring Hill plowed through the front wall of the home, with at least one person inside.
Gaither, 20, was driving east near the 12000 block of Linden shortly before noon when he apparently lost control at the top of a hill and veered across the center line, into the yard and then the house, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.
The car glanced off the garage wall and through the home's front door and adjoining wall, causing cinder blocks to tumble into the foyer and living room. The crash left a hole about 8 feet wide.
Jose Antonio Ramos-Rodriguez, who was in the home at the time, was not injured but was taken to a local hospital complaining of breathing problems, the Sheriff's Office said. His condition was not available.
Gaither was charged with careless driving. He declined to talk to a reporter at the scene.
"He's really upset," said Mary Gaither, who identified herself as Brandon's mother and who arrived at the scene shortly after the crash. Mary Gaither said the car is owned by her elderly mother.
Damage to the home was estimated at $17,000, the Sheriff's Office said. Nelida M. Pagan purchased the 22-year-old, 1,300-square-foot house in 2004, property records show. Pagan could not be reached Monday. Shortly after the crash, a county building official taped a sign to the front window announcing the building was no longer safe to occupy.
The Focus had about $10,000 worth of damage, the Sheriff's Office said. By 1:30 p.m., the car had been eased onto a wrecker and hauled away.
Hensel, the pastor at Christian Life Assembly of God Church in Spring Hill, came to the scene to support the Gaithers, who attend the church.
"I know Brandon is very sorry this accident has happened and that this has inconvenienced this family," Hensel said.
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]