A season's worth of preserves along with 10 bushels of apples bought just today for canning were destroyed tonight at the Swendsen home on Akron Road, Pembroke, when a Mercury Mountaineer came roaring up the driveway of the farm and plowed through the family's dining room.
The son of Peter and Lynette Swendsen was just feet away frying up some eggs.
Lynette thanked God over and over as she talked about the accident.
She was thankful that nobody was hurt or killed in the accident -- not her son who was minutes away from sitting at the dining room table turned into splinters by the SUV, not herself who was in the house on the phone with her mother-in-law, not her husband who was standing feet from the gravel driveway when the vehicle went rushing by, and not her younger son, who was helping bring in cows that were panicked by the loud boom of the car smashing into the house.
Even the driver, reported to be Jason M. Purdy, 34, of Tesnow Road, Alabama, suffered only minor injuries.
"I do all of my own canning and preserves," Lynette said. "We have six children, so I do all of that myself. All of our jelly was done for the year.
"It sounds crazy to be upset about it," she added, "but that kid hit that stove in our kitchen and it must weigh 1,500 pounds -- you just can't imagine -- that alone could have killed him. It's just unbelievable he didn't die."
Everybody was lucky, said Sgt. John Szumigala, of the Sheriff's Office.
"There was nobody in the room that was completely demolished by the car," Szumigala said. "There were people close to it, but nobody in it. And nobody was in his path coming down the driveway, so everybody was very lucky."
Peter Swendsen said it looked like the SUV was doing 100 mph down his driveway.
Both Peter and Lynette described the car hitting the house as an explosion.
"It was like something you never heard in your life," Lynette said.
The vehicle came to rest on a tree stump in the back yard, with the front wheels off the ground.
"He was still trying to go," Peter said. "He still had his foot on the gas pedal."
Peter helped him get out of the Mountaineer and when the driver, according to Peter, tried to run, Peter said he "grabbed him by the shoulders and sat him to the ground."
When Lynette came out of the house, Peter was yelling at her to call 9-1-1.
"I still had the phone in my hand from my mother-in-law," Lynette said. "I was just frantic with the lady on the phone because I didn't know if anybody was hurt. I didn't even know what happened."
The red preserves splattered against the outside wall of the house gave some of the first responders quite a start when they arrived on the scene, but they soon realized it was just jelly.
Purdy was transported to ECMC by Mercy EMS with minor injuries.
He's believed to be the same person who was reported as a possibly intoxicated driver on Akron Road prior to the accident. When a patrol arrived, the vehicle couldn't be located. A short time later, a vehicle reportedly hit a road sign on Akron Road, and then minutes later, at 7:07 p.m., the call came into emergency dispatch for a car hitting a house at 721 Akron Road.
Purdy was not the owner of the SUV. About an hour after the accident, a young woman showed up at the scene in tears. She said it was her vehicle that hit the house.
The initial investigation indicates, Szumigala said, that Purdy had permission to drive the vehicle, but he did not necessarily have permission to have taken the vehicle for as long as he appears to have taken it.
The Swendsen's home on their organic dairy farm is situated down a long driveway -- well more than 100 yards long -- off Akron Road at a T-intersection with Marble Road. Szumigala said it appears Purdy was heading north on Marble Road and just continued straight across Akron Road into the driveway.
Peter said Purdy kept asking if he was on Akron Road after he was out of the SUV.
The incident remains under investigation and Purdy has not yet been charged with any crimes.
Lynette said Purdy said he was sorry, before he was taken away by Mercy EMS, for hitting her house. She said she was just glad he wasn't seriously hurt.
Responding to the scene were volunteer firefighters from Pembroke, East Pembroke Corfu and Darien. The accident is being investigated by deputies Kevin McCarthy and Patrick Reeves and Sgt. Szumigala and Investigator Roger Stone.