Pickup crashes into Lowell couple’s porch

LOWELL – A Lowell couple got quite the shock Tuesday morning as they watched a pickup truck come careening through their backyard and into their back porch.

“I heard this scraping noise that sounded like metal and I saw her leave the top of the road,” said Charlene Skinner, 68.

Skinner and her husband Fred, 75, were in the room just off the back porch of their 228 Fourth St. home around 10 a.m. when they noticed a pickup truck barreling toward them.

The truck, a black Chevrolet S-10 driven by 27-year-old Nicole J. Wenzel of Beverly, was coming at the house “like a bullet,” said Charlene.

“I thought it was coming straight through the house,” she said.

The vehicle hit a three-foot tall windmill Fred had built and dragged it several feet through the yard. The truck stopped shy of the house, but ended up knocking off the Skinners’ wooden porch, which Fred had built in 1976.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Wenzel was coming down a steep embankment on Ohio 530 when she went off the road and careened through about 50 yards of grass on the hillside before crossing the road and traveling another 20 yards through the Skinners’ backyard.

She was going about 35 miles per hour, said Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Stephen Roe.

“I heard it coming down over that hill and then hit the house,” said Rob Bowman, who had been performing a home inspection at a nearby house. “It sounded like a tree falling down. By the time I got here (the driver) was out walking around.”

Wenzel was transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital for treatment, said Lowell-Adams Volunteer Fire Department chief Josh Harris, but he would not elaborate on her injuries.

Wenzel was being treated in the emergency room at MMH Tuesday afternoon and was listed in good condition, said Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing for Marietta’s Memorial Health System.

Wenzel was the only passenger in the truck. No one else was injured, said Harris.

A cause of the accident was not immediately available, said Roe.

“She wasn’t able to tell us what happened in the crash,” he said.

As a result, Wenzel will be tested for drugs and alcohol, he said.

She is being charged with driving under suspension because she had a suspended driver’s license, with other possible charges pending, said Roe.

The bottom of the hill leading down from Ohio 530 has been the scene of many accidents, according to area residents.

Neighbor Sharon Washburn said she has long been worried that her house will fall victim to a vehicle losing control on the hill.

“It’s a heck of a road and drivers don’t realize that until they hit the top,” she said.

The Skinners had heard the sound of scraping metal outside their home so many times that Charlene knew exactly where to look when she heard the sound Tuesday morning.

“The garage (at the back of the property) has been hit so many times, so we know that sound,” she said.

The Skinners have suggested making changes to the road, such as rerouting Ohio 530 to a point where it can slope more gradually downhill, said Charlene, but any plans to do so have fizzled out.