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Tree Trimming Truck Expected to Stay Halfway Through La Mesa Church Wall for Days

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

The three-ton tree trimming truck that plowed into a church in La Mesa Wednesday will remain halfway through a Sunday school classroom for almost a week while crews try to safely remove it.

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.

Fortunately, no one was inside at the time.

Construction Manager Tony Ortega said it could take five days to safely remove the truck with the need of proper permits.

“The main part of that roof line has been compromised, so what we need to do is structurally rebuild walls inside of it,” Ortega told NBC 7. “We have to make sure each (step of the way) … has a permit, so the city is going to look at each one of those and make sure it’s okay.”

As a precaution, crews with San Diego Gas and Electric shut off power to the church while officials inspected the building.

Church officials said services will only resume when their gas and electricity is restored.

La Mesa City Hall is closed every other Friday, including March 8, so Oretga said he and his crew will work over the weekend to try and complete the needed repairs to energize the main chapel and begin removing the truck.

But as for when the church will be reconditioned, Ortega said it will “take weeks, absolutely.”

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.

The truck narrowly missed a home next door to the church, where a family resides. No one was hurt but the parents told NBC 7 it was a frightening experience.

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

"I think it is a miracle no one was hurt," church elder Winnie Davis said. "I was praying as soon as I heard about it."

Harbinson Avenue was reopened within three hours of the crash.

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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