Truck crashes into Huntington Beach church

Driver suffers 'significant injuries,' according to officials. No one was inside church at the time.

June 06, 2012|By Michael Miller and Kelly Parker
  • The 106-year-old Warner Avenue Baptist Church was damaged after a driver crashed his truck into the entryway Tuesday. Tthe building had to be supported by wood beams, shown here. The driver was taken to the hospital with injuries.
The 106-year-old Warner Avenue Baptist Church was damaged… (Kevin Chang, HB…)

A driver suffered injuries this week when his pickup truck crashed into an unoccupied, 106-year-old Huntington Beach church, according to police and fire officials.

The crash took place at Warner Avenue Baptist Church, 7360 Warner Ave., around 10:20 a.m. Tuesday, according to Huntington Beach Fire Capt. Jeff Lopez.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team extricated the driver, a man, from the vehicle. He was taken to an area trauma center with significant injuries, according to Lopez.

Lopez said it appeared that the truck spun around and struck the church.

The truck ended up in the entryway of the church, smashing a post, but didn't actually go inside.

Firefighters put up a makeshift post of wooden boards for stability, Lopez said.

Huntington Beach-based Mandic Motors towed the crushed vehicle away about noon.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, according to Huntington Beach Police Lt. Mitch O'Brien.

Jeneane Ottman, an English teacher at Ocean View High School across the street, was in the middle of class when the noise sounded outside.


"It shook the kids up, obviously," Ottman said.

Pastor Steve Orman was sitting in his office in a building next to the church.

"I heard it," he said. "It was a very loud bang."

This is the third time in 26 years that a car has crashed into the church, probably because it's so close to the curb, Orman said.

Until the damage is repaired, the church, which has a 120-member congregation, will likely hold services in the back building, Orman said.

He added that he was very glad no one was inside when it happened and no pedestrians were hit.

"God is good," Orman said. "This is only a building. Nobody else was hurt."

According to the church's website, the wooden structure was built in 1906 in the community of Wintersburg, which became part of Huntington Beach in the 1950s. A Methodist church used the building before the Baptist church took over in 1965.

Local historian Mary Adams Urashima, who operates the blog Historic Wintersburg, said the church, located in a largely Japanese community at the turn of the century, was a marker of Huntington's diverse origins.

"Wintersburg was unique in that it was not a segregated 'Nihonmachi' (Japantown), like some other places in California," she wrote in an email. "Everyone lived and worked together — European, Japanese, Mexican American, Filipino." ;

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB ; @KellyParkerTCN

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