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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Michael Morton was not at home early Monday when a car crashed through a wall and into the living room of his home on East Paulding Road.

4th crash in 23 years occurs on owner’s property

– Monday wasn’t the first time Michael Morton awoke to news that his property had been damaged by a vehicle.

It wasn’t the second time.

Nor the third.

In fact, in the 23 years he’s owned the house, Morton said, he’s cleaned up after at least four drivers who crashed into his home, vehicles or trees at his Paulding Road home.

But this time, at least he wasn’t home, he added.

Early Monday, police said, Christopher R. Smith was trying to flee from police on Werling Drive when he ran up and over the curb, into the grass and through the wall of Morton’s home at 2402 Paulding Road.

Smith, 30, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.185 percent, police said, and had led officers on a short chase around the neighborhood after he failed to stop at Abbott Street and East Rudisill Boulevard at 3:25 a.m.

Smith was being held at the Allen County Jail in lieu of $13,250 bail on charges of possession of a handgun by a serious violent felon, operating a vehicle while intoxicated and resisting law enforcement.

He was also being held without bail on a probation violation charge.

After striking Morton’s home, police said, Smith tried to run from police but was shot twice by a Taser.

On Tuesday, Morton stopped by his home to look at the damage – the missing wall, the bricks scattered throughout his snow-covered porch and the two rows of tire tracks that left trenches in his front yard.

“You can see, that whole wall there is out,” he said, pointing at the boards that covered a car-sized hole where his living room used to be.

“He came right through the yard and up into the house. Had to be going fast.”

Police estimated that Smith was traveling well over 80 mph during the chase.

Michael Joyner, Fort Wayne Police Department spokesman, said it isn’t common for vehicles to run into homes.

“It’s a rarity,” he said. “Typically, when you see it happen, it’s weather-related or an issue where an inexperienced or elderly driver thought the vehicle was in park or reverse when it was actually in drive.”

Joyner said Monday’s case was a result of an impaired driver, coupled with weather affecting driving conditions.

Morton, however, said he wasn’t surprised to get the call about the wreck.

Over the years, the home and his property has seen more than its fair share of damage, he said.

There was the time a driver ran into a Dodge Ram parked in his driveway, or the day he found a car had crashed into his Cadillac.

And he won’t forget the day a driver took out the smallest of the trees growing in his front yard.

“That tree didn’t stand a chance,” he said, laughing.

Morton said he was in the process of moving out of his Paulding Road home and into assisted living when the crash occurred, but most of his belongings remain inside the house.

It might be a few days before the house can be cleared, especially if there’s structural damage, he said.

Until Monday, he was planning to sell the house, but with a hole in the side, he’s not sure what he’ll do.

“But they left me this souvenir,” he said, holding up the mangled remains of an Ohio license plate that had fallen off the vehicle after it smashed into his home.

The good news was that no one was hurt, he added.

“I’m so thankful that kid wasn’t hurt. He could have been hurt, bad,” he said. “I’m glad I wasn’t in there either. I’ve got a poodle that likes to run around and he would have been right there, trying to see what was going on.”