TAMPA — A vehicle slammed into a house early Sunday, seriously injuring a 9-year-old boy sleeping inside the home.
Every year, Susan Baxter-Dunning, 47, throws a Children's Gasparilla Parade party, where she takes several kids to the parade before returning home to 7910 N Orleans Ave. in Lowry Park so the kids can have a slumber party.
Joseph "Joey" Vanhouse, 9, was one of them. He had gone to sleep on a sectional couch in the living room. Just after midnight, Tampa police said, a 2002 Ford sport utility vehicle heading west on Hollywood Street blew through a stop sign at Orleans Avenue. It hit a parked Isuzu in front of Baxter-Dunning's house and barged into the home, ramming the couch Joey was sleeping on.
The impact threw the boy several feet. Baxter-Dunning said he complained of a bruised knee and abdominal pain. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where police said he suffered a skull fracture but was stable, listed in serious/critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Joey was the only person injured. The crash could have killed another girl, who was sleeping on a couch that was crushed by the car and the home's back wall.
But at some point before the crash, Baxter-Dunning said, she had moved to a bedroom to sleep with her friends.
"We're very lucky," Baxter-Dunning said.
On Sunday, her family and friends tried to sort through the wreckage. Six people share the home.
The entire front center wall of the home was blown open and the back wall rests at a 45-degree angle off the floor. Brick beneath the home's green paint is crushed and wood beams are broken.
"I feel like a drive-through," Baxter-Dunning said, twirling a strand of red Gasparilla throw beads she had picked up on the floor. "We got a Sonic with burgers and cheese and a little bit of glass and ice."
Inside, near a china cabinet of crystal and porcelain dolls miraculously intact, was the offending SUV's license plate.
Tampa police said it was driven by Guillermo Rosales, 17, who lives at 13931 Henson Circle in Tampa. Police said he was speeding but no charges have been filed. Police said they are awaiting toxicology results.
Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or email@example.com.