Church Calls Crushing Truck Crash ‘Blessing in Disguise'

The large, yellow truck went through a wall at the San Diego Taiwanese Presbyterian Church at 4426 Harbinson Ave. in La Mesa Wednesday afternoon

A three-ton tree trimming truck that plowed into a church in La Mesa three weeks ago will remain lodged in the church's Sunday school classroom for a little while longer.

But, while the truck is getting in the way of things, church leaders say the crash was actually a miracle in disguise that has brought the community closer together.

The large, yellow truck went through a wall at the San Diego Taiwanese Presbyterian Church at 4426 Harbinson Ave. at around 1:30 p.m. on March 6.

Fortunately, no one was inside at the time. Had it hit a foot to the right, it would collide with gas and electrical lines and could've sparked an explosion. And had it crashed six feet to the right, it would hit the front room of a house where four children live.

Construction crews originally estimated that the removal of the truck would take five days because proper permits needed to be obtained. But engineers soon realized that the truck was supporting the structure and keeping it from crumbling, and reinforcements had to be built to take the weight off of it.

That work began on Monday.

"It's in God's plan," church elder Winnie Davis told NBC 7. 

Though the crash has forced the church to rearrange its day-to-day operation, Davis called it a miracle because it strengthened relationships between the church and its neighbors who reached out to help.

"With this incident, a lot of people came and tried to send their prayers to us," Davis said.

Neighbor Tony Ortega, who's also a construction manager for the company doing the repairs, said the community and the church were in it together.

"I don't care if you fall down, it's how you get up," Ortega said.

As a precaution, crews with San Diego Gas and Electric shut off power to the church for the first two weeks after the accident. Church officials said services resumed once their gas and electricity is restored.

The truck that slammed into the building was marked with the letters WCA, the acronym for West Coast Arborists, a local tree trimming company.

Officials told NBC 7 that workers with WCA were trimming trees about 100 yards away on West Point Avenue when, for some reason, the truck’s wedge-shaped chuck – which is used to keep the wheels from rolling – failed.

The truck rolled, without a driver, straight down the hill and crossed Harbinson Avenue, and then slammed into the church.

"It's a miracle, today is Ash Wednesday," Pastor Shang Tsai said on the day of the crash. Tsai told NBC 7 he's usually in the room the truck crashed into at around the same time.

According to the church's website, the San Diego Taiwanese Presbyterian Church has been at its current location in La Mesa since 2012. The congregation includes more than 70 members.

Service is conducted at the church in Taiwanese every Sunday.

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