Police in Milton, Vermont, say three teenagers are lucky to be safe, after their joyride ended with a crash into a church.
The unlicensed driver of the small SUV was just 14 years old, according to investigators.
“My faith tells me that God was in this,” Rev. Paul Somerville, the senior pastor of the Cornerstone Community Church, said of the fact no serious injuries were suffered in the crash. “And these kids have a real purpose.”
Somerville was woken up around 3 a.m. Friday to a call about the wreck, he said.
The car ended up smashing through an outside wall of the church, then two additional interior walls before coming to rest inside the church, against the foundation.
“It literally went from one side of the building completely to the other,” Somerville told necn.
The crash affected an area of the building separate from the sanctuary, which is used by the church’s youth group and area boy scouts.
The latest news from around the state
A video production skills camp was scheduled for the space during the day.
“Thank goodness nobody was here,” said Stephanie Soules of Lake Champlain Access Television, the organizer of the video camp.
Milton Police aren’t revealing many details about the crash, because it’s still under investigation and involved juveniles.
“These kids are very, very lucky they didn’t get injured this morning,” Sgt. Paul Locke of the Milton Police said.
Locke said two of the three juveniles in the car were taken to the hospital for bumps and scrapes, just as a precaution.
A fourth young person was present, but was not inside the vehicle at the time of the wreck, Locke explained.
Behind the wheel of the small SUV, which is now considered a total loss, there was an unlicensed operator too young to even get a learner’s permit under Vermont law, Locke said.
“There were some circumstances behind why the 14-year-old was driving,” Locke said. “I can’t release that at this time, but it wasn’t like [the vehicle] was stolen.”
Police say the kids were driving around the park area near the church, then came out of a straightaway toward the church going quickly. Locke was unable to provide an estimate of the speed the vehicle reached, because the crash is still under investigation.
The vehicle left some tire marks in the grass before crashing into the church, but there were no skid marks apparent in the parking lot.
Before blasting through the wall of the church, the friends narrowly missed a tree, which Somerville said would’ve surely caused more serious injuries if they had hit it.
“These kids walked away from this,” Somerville reiterated. “The more I contemplate it, the more stunned I become.”
Somerville said he hopes the young people take away an important lesson, and new wisdom, from this series of obvious lapses in judgement.
The pastor added that work will start soon to plan for repairs to the church building.