A 19-year-old DUI suspect driving the wrong way plowed into a home in City Heights overnight, injuring a resident who was on the couch when the car suddenly came barreling into her house.
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said an officer spotted the driver just before the incident, driving the wrong way near El Cajon Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue. The officer tried to flag down the driver, but he didn’t stop. Police said the DUI suspect almost hit another driver and ran through several stop lights.
Moments later, just before 2:40 a.m., the young man -- a U.S. Navy sailor now identified as Matthew Salabarria -- slammed through an iron fence and into a home on Menlo Avenue.
A family of five was inside the house. A woman was sitting on the couch when the car slammed into the living room. The impact from the crash sent her flying across the room, police said.
The driver’s car finally came to a stop, half of the car ending up inside the the home.
Police said the resident was injured and taken to a local hospital, but is expected to survive. No one else was hurt.
Resident Robert Tran told NBC 7 his mother was the person injured in the crash.
“I was in shock; the adrenaline just rushed through me really quickly,” he said, recounting the sudden wake-up call after the Salabarria crashed into the house. “I was worried about my mom, for the most part. She was at the point of impact; that was my main concern.”
Tran said he’s grateful that his mother is going to be okay.
“She’s a sweet old lady. You know, she doesn’t bother anybody, she’s really nice.”
NBC 7 spoke with several neighbors Saturday who said they were startled by the loud crash in the early hours. One woman said she was taking out the trash when she heard the commotion.
“I heard, ‘Boom!’ Then they said, ‘Put your hands up,’ and I heard, ‘Pop, pop, pop,’” City Heights resident Rita Jenkins said.
Hours after the collision, crews remained at the scene, cleaning up the extensive damage and boarding up the home.
The Tran family will now work to repair their house, where they have lived for a long time.
Salabarria, who had just started his career with the Navy, was arrested for felony DUI, the SDPD said. He's scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.