Van plows into house off Mount Baker Highway

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 30, 2013 

House Crash

North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Capt. Joe Noonchester carries a chihuahua in his jacket after the van it was in crashed into the garage of a house at 2544 Mount Baker Highway on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 in Bellingham. The driver suffered minor injuries.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BELLINGHAM - A Glacier woman crashed her van into the side of a house Tuesday afternoon, April 30, near Mount Baker Highway.

Sharin J. Lutsch, 49, told Washington State Patrol troopers she blacked out at 1:20 p.m. as she drove east past the highway's intersection with Mission Road. Tire marks in the grass stretched about 200 feet from the point she left the highway, dipped over a dirt embankment, coasted - on a straight path - through a 30-foot gap in two trees and plowed into the west side of a house, hitting its two-car garage at 2544 Mount Baker Highway.

"I went outside and saw the garage door was all bowed out," said homeowner John Kehres. "I thought there was an explosion inside."

Then he went around the corner. He found the back half of a dark green Toyota Sienna sticking out of the garage. By the time firefighters showed up, Lutsch didn't seem to know where she was. But she was conscious and could talk, said North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Capt. Joe Noonchester. She was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital, about an hour after the crash, for treatment of minor injuries.

Nobody else was in the van.

Gary Groom, a neighbor, had gone out to wash his car when he noticed the flashing lights of the fire trucks and patrol cars lining the driveway. He cradled his Corgi in his arms as he strolled around the grass lawn, looking for the van's path.

"Tow truck's going to have fun with that one," Groom said.

A silver 2008 Ford Edge parked inside had been pushed with enough force to knock out a concrete partition bisecting the garage. Kehres was already resigned to the idea that the SUV, worth about $20,000, was totaled.

The crash remained under investigation Tuesday afternoon, and state troopers weren't sure if they would cite Lutsch for driving with wheels off the roadway. Trooper Mark Francis said she may have to undergo new driving tests through the state Department of Licensing.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his dispatcher blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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