January 7, 1995 in Idaho

Speeding Corvette Crashes, Injuring Three

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A dramatic wreck early Friday morning sent three people to the hospital and left car parts scattered along two blocks of a Coeur d’Alene neighborhood.

Idaho State Police say Robert Allen Thomas, 29, of Coeur d’Alene had been drinking before he sped his Corvette down Harrison Avenue at 90 mph.

Victoria VanHorn was sitting on her brother’s lap in the passenger seat when the sports car came over a hill and flew into the air at 12:55 a.m.

VanHorn, 34, of Coeur d’Alene and her brother, Rick VanHorn, 36, also of Coeur d’Alene were both listed in critical condition at Kootenai Medical Center Friday evening.

“Coming over that rise, Thomas went airborne, landed and bottomed out at the intersection of Ninth Street and Harrison,” said ISP Cpl. Douglas Orr.

Thomas’ car careened down the sidewalk, through a yard and narrowly missed several homes.

A trail of black skid marks, chunks of plastic and crunched metal marked the 1992 Corvette’s path. Two blocks later, the car flipped over after striking a telephone pole guide wire, Orr said.

“It looks like we’re in a battle zone,” said Mavis Fuchs. The Corvette’s front fender was still perched on her lawn at 10th and Harrison.

The booming crash and flash of flames startled sleeping neighbors.

“It was an awful big crash and it seemed like it lasted forever,” said Milford Graves.

Shawn and Samantha Searle stepped outside their house at 11th and Harrison to find the burning car upside down in their driveway and pieces of it on their roof.

“It looked like nine cars got in a wreck,” Shawn Searle said.

The couple called police and tried to put the fire out. They said the driver, Thomas, was hysterical. He was able to walk around but had to be restrained by emergency workers.

His passengers weren’t so lucky.

“She just lay there and didn’t move,” Shawn Searle said of passenger Victoria VanHorn. “It was pretty eerie. We thought they were dead.”

None of the three people were wearing seat belts and all were thrown from the sports car. Puddles of blood still marked the street Friday afternoon.

Cpl. Orr said Thomas admitted downing three vodkas before driving. Orr estimates Thomas was traveling 90 mph on the street. The speed limit is 25 mph.

Witnesses told police Thomas had been at at least three bars that evening, Orr said.

Thomas was convicted of drunken driving and possession of drug paraphernalia in 1984, according to Kootenai County court records. He was given 30 days in jail - most of that time suspended - and two years probation.

Orr said police and prosecutors are waiting on blood tests and the passengers’ condition to determine what, if any, charges will be filed.

Thomas is listed in fair condition at Kootenai Medical Center.


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