Tina Lebron thought it was an earthquake — or a “high pitch” bomb.
Last week, the California hair stylist awoke to a deep rumbling. But it wasn’t a tremor or an explosive device — an allegedly stolen car had just raced off the road and launched into her home’s kitchen.
“It was an explosion,” Lebron, 52, told Oxygen.com. “It was so loud that I had to plug my ears. I was screaming to muffle it.”
A silver Toyota Camry, which police said had been stolen hours earlier, smashed her dining room to bits and left a gaping hole in the home.
“[It] imploded the entire kitchen,” Lebron added. “The entire south side of the kitchen wall of the house is gone. The only thing you could see outside was the taillights. It’s crazy.”
The vehicle was “airborne” when it crashed into the family’s Rowland Heights home, shortly before 5 a.m. on April 18, according to a collision report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Lebron and her elderly mother-in-law, who was also home, were unharmed. The woman’s husband, who works at a Lowe’s in Anaheim, walked out the front door approximately 25 minutes before the residential fender bender.
“We’re fine, thank god that nothing happened,” Rene Lebron told Oxygen.com.
Rene, a self-described creature of habit, who typically tinkers in the kitchen before clocking in at work, left home earlier than usual that day — and skipped his routine morning coffee.
“I had to open the store,” he recalled. “I had a big morning ahead of me and I left.”
Their kitchen coffee maker is now buried under wreckage’s rubble, the couple said.
“I could have been in that kitchen,” Rene Lebron recalled. “I probably would be in a hospital or really badly hurt if I had just stayed and just made breakfast that morning.”
The sedan was traveling in “excess of 60 miles per hour,” when it collided with the house, investigators estimated. The Toyota was later extracted from the home using a heavy duty crane.
“Thankfully nobody was in that area,” Marcos Iniguez, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson, told Oxygen.com. “Their living room area and their kitchen is totaled. Luckily, they’re still able to live there.”
The vehicle had been stolen from a woman’s home a few miles away, hours earlier, investigators said.
“These joyrides sometimes end up in very ‘unjoyful’ situations,” Iniguez said. “A simple joy ride can turn into a tragedy in a blink of an eye. Someone could have been run over or killed easily.”
No arrests have been made. Detectives, who are working to identify the pair of alleged thieves, suspect they are “young” males, possibly teenagers, or in their “early 20s.” It’s unknown if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision.
“We’re definitely pursuing any and all leads,” Iniguez added. “There were things left in the vehicle that are being useful for investigators.”
Doorbell camera footage from the home, obtained and reviewed by Oxygen.com, shows the residential collision, its aftermath, and what appears to be two men fleeing the scene seconds later.
In the short video clip, a pair of headlights illuminate the neighborhood; an engine roars, tires screech, and a car suddenly jumps the curb, ramps over a hedge, and pulverizes the home’s south wall. Seconds later, two individuals dart across the family’s front yard and out of site.
Police, who confirmed the dramatic clip’s authenticity, said the video is being reviewed by detectives.
For now, the Lebron's have boarded up the crater in their home, which sustained tens of thousands of dollars in the collision.
“We don’t know if the structure has been compromised because we haven’t had an engineer come out and look at everything,” Rene Lebron said.
The damages are covered by home insurance, the couple said.
“Everything can be rebuilt and replaced,” Tina Lebron said. “We’re okay ... not a scratch. But we will be jumpy with loud sounds for a bit.”
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