Car drives into building in West Hartford, just missing a woman inside

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WEST HARTFORD - Wednesday afternoon, emergency crews responded to a car that drove into an apartment, just missing the home's occupant.

Around 2:40 p.m., the car went into a row of apartments and damaged an exterior wall at 20 Starkel Rd. Officials believe the elderly driver confused the brake and gas pedals.

Officials on the scene said the car stopped right in front of the woman's bed as she was laying on it. No one was injured.

"Uninjured, miraculously," said West Hartford Battalion Chief Kevin Munson. The car did stop just short of her."

Laura Woodie, the property manager for West Hartford Fellowship Housing, said Wednesday was also the resident's birthday.

"She's shaken, of course," said Woodie. "A car comes through your bedroom, you're shaken."

Woodie said elderly driving is a concern but rarely an issue because residents usually have good judgement about when to drop driving. The driver in Wednesday's crash was reportedly a guest.

"We've had people come and surrender their keys to us, and we call family members if they're a little shaky about driving," said Woodie.

According to AAA, seniors are among the most careful drivers, but are also more likely to be hurt or killed in a crash because of age-related fragility. Except for teenagers, seniors also have the highest crash death rate per mile driven.

"Eyesight starts to change, their mobility changes a little bit," said Chuck Wusterbarth, marketing manager for AAA's driving school. "We want to make them aware of how they need to be extra careful."

AAA said family members should consider driver refresher courses for elderly relatives if they notice certain changes, such as a new medical issue, minor fender benders or scrapes, or problems forgetting keys or the way home.

Officials are ruling Wednesday's crash accidental, pending further investigation.