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Drunken driver goes airborne, crashes into Kearns living room, police say

Published: Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:50 p.m. MDT

Damage to a Kearns home is evident on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, where an allegedly drunk woman driving an Ford Explorer went airborne Monday night and ended up crashing into the living room and kitchen near 4178 West and 5820 South.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

KEARNS — Richard Jensen was already in bed for the evening Monday when he was awakened by a series of odd noises.

"First thing I heard, or I think I heard because I was asleep, was a racing engine. And then I heard a thud. And then I heard an explosion," he said.

And then Jensen, 66, discovered that a sport utility vehicle had crashed through the wall and was sitting in his living room — with the driver still inside.

"She was screaming and worried she hurt somebody. And I'm like, 'Little late for that.' And I was concerned she was hurt so I called 911," Jensen said. "And then she said, 'Well, I lost control.' Well, obvious, right?"

Jensen's home suffered heavy damage after the allegedly drunken woman went airborne and ended up inside the house in a spectacular crash.

"The vehicle was completely inside the house when it came to rest," said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. "This vehicle ended up not only in the living room but the kitchen area as well."

Neither the Herriman woman who was driving nor Jensen were injured.

The crash was reported at 11:17 p.m. at Jensen's house, 4178 W. 5820 South. Hoyal said a woman driving a Ford Explorer missed a turn, hit the homeowner's yard which was on an incline, and went airborne through the front of the house, clearing the foundation.

"So she went flying," Jensen said. "She didn't hit my foundation, which is approximately 3 feet high. It actually landed on the floor in my house. And the whole truck was in my house as if she parked it."

Alcohol and speed were believed to be factors in the crash, Hoyal said.

Brittany Carpenter, 28, told investigators "she should not have been drinking and driving," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report. She was given a Breathalyzer test and police said her blood-alcohol level registered at 0.22, or nearly three times the legal limit.

Carpenter, who has no prior criminal history in Utah according to state court records, was booked into jail for investigation of DUI and negligent collision. She was released a short time later and took a cab to her grandmother's house to sleep, her mother said.

When Leslie Carpenter talked to her daughter after she was arrested and before her daughter had seen any news coverage, she said she didn't think her daughter fully understood yet what had happened.

"She thought she just hit a garage. I don't even think she knows the severity of it all," Leslie Carpenter said. "When she first talked to me she said, 'I hit a garage.' Garage? You went into a home dear."

Carpenter said the behavior her daughter allegedly exhibited Monday night "is not her at all."

"For her to get behind the wheel after any kind of alcohol beverage is beyond her," she said. "I was just a little shocked because my daughter is very responsible normally. So it was pretty scary. I'm just glad no one was hurt."

Carpenter said her daughter got into an argument with someone earlier in the evening and then went to her sister's house. She also said her daughter has "had a lot on her mind" lately, and the argument that night likely added to it. Carpenter said her daughter was likely trying to drive to her home after, but was "more intoxicated than she thought."

Jensen, who has lived in the same house for 40 years and has survived two major health scares of his own, said he actually felt bad for the woman.

"These things just don't bother me like they used to. I look at the bigger picture. I'm alive. And it doesn't do me any good for me to be mad at her. She's going to have to live with what she did, and fortunately she didn't kill anybody," he said.

But Jensen said he hopes her story will serve as an example to others of why not to drink and drive.

"When you overdrink, this is what happens. She could have been killed herself, or I could have been killed. (The) structure will be repaired, and I'll get over the stress of remembering it. But she has to live with it the rest of her life," he said. "I actually feel bad for her because she didn't have to be there."

In addition to the damage caused to his house, Jensen said the crash also damaged an antique chair built in the late 1800s that his grandfather used.

Contributing: Peter Samore, Sandra Yi

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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