Hit-and-run driver crashes through pastor’s office in NE Portland

KPTV photo.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A northeast Portland church has a lot of cleaning up to do after a car crashed through the side of their building and destroyed a pastor’s office.

It happened around 5:50 p.m. Sunday just minutes before the 6:00 evening service at the Highland Christian Center on Northeast Glisan & 78th.

Luckily, the pastor was preparing for the service and was not in his office at the time. His desk and furniture are now blanketed with debris, including part of a wall, chunks of concrete and shards of glass.

Portland Police say two drivers crashed on the street outside, and one of them came through the church building. But rather than sticking around, officers say the driver took off.

Sixty eight-year-old Willis Stefan was later arrested and charged with DUII, but he was released from jail.

“I feel awful for them,” Dwight Reid, who works across the street, said. “The church, they’re great neighbors, they do a lot of wonderful things for the neighborhood, they have a food bank they open up once a week, they feed a lot of people. To have somebody hit and run and smash through the pastor’s office is really awful and, you know, my office is right across the street. It could have very well been my office.”

Reid owns Bridgetown Chiropractic, which is just across the street, and has been working in the neighborhood for years.

Monday morning, crews had to repair the crosswalk signs on Northeast Glisan & 78th because they were damaged in the crash, too.

Reid wasn’t surprised.

“They put in the blinking crosswalk here just to increase safety,” he said. “Unfortunately, five or six times a year it gets hit, and so they’re out here frequently trying to rebuild the base.”

The crosswalk improvements came after a terrible tragedy in 2013.

Heather Fitzsimmons was killed in the crosswalk when a car didn’t stop and hit her. A cross honoring her life still sits in the grass nearby.

Shortly after her death that year, her father told FOX 12 he felt like the safety upgrades to the crosswalk were a tribute to her, helping prevent future crashes and, in turn, the needless suffering that could be faces by other families.

Now that another crash has happened here, Reid is thankful nobody was hurt and he hopes it’s a reminder to everyone to slow down and pay attention.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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