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A drunk driver crashed into a Peoria woman's house. Then she got the bill

Jamisha Hudson (left), Mary Hudson (right) and Jamisha's daughter on the proch of her East Republic Street Home. Before the crash, an overhang would have protruded from the house where bare, stripped wood is now visible.
Tim Shelley
/
WCBU
Jamisha Hudson (left), Mary Hudson (right) and Jamisha's daughter on the proch of her East Republic Street Home. Before the crash, an overhang would have protruded from the house where bare, stripped wood is now visible.

On the evening of Aug. 13, 2022, a red Ford F-150 careened across a yard and crashed into a home after hitting another vehicle and veering off the roadway in the 400 block of East Republic Street in Peoria.

Police reports show the driver called the vehicle in as stolen shortly after, but an investigation would find her later admitting to operating the truck with a blood alcohol content of 0.179.

Jamisha Hudson lives in the house the truck crashed into.

“I thought it was a prank at first, they were just like ‘yeah, somebody hit your house,’” she said. “I was like: ‘there’s no way possible, I think you may have the wrong house, because I’m in the middle of this block.’”

Hudson had been out to dinner with her daughter and a friend when the crash happened. She says she sped up just a bit on the way home, anticipating the extent of the damage. Then she saw the porch.

A picture of the undamaged house, with a full porch and foliage in the front, taken from Google Maps street view feature. According to Google, this image was captured in July 2022.
Google
A picture of the undamaged house, with a full porch and foliage in the front, taken from Google Maps street view feature. According to Google, this image was captured in July 2022.

“When I pulled up, I just broke down,” Hudson said. “I started crying, I was screaming, because I was like, ‘what the heck.’ I didn’t know the damage to the inside of the house. All I saw was just the porch completely collapsed.”

Later, reflecting on the night, Hudson is grateful she had chosen to go out, she says she and her daughter frequently sat in the front room of the house during the evenings.

A photo of the damage to the porch shortly after the crash and demolition. Shrubbery is smashed, the overhang is gone, one corner of the porch is gone, with what remains bending towards the ground.
Jamisha Hudson
A photo of the damage to the porch shortly after the crash and demolition. Shrubbery is smashed, the overhang is gone, one corner of the porch is gone, with what remains bending towards the ground.

“When the porch fell down, they broke our window. So we could have been sitting right here, everything could have collapsed. It could have just been this really traumatizing event for my daughter specifically,” Hudson said.

Shortly after, the City of Peoria performed an inspection of the damage. Community Development Director Joe Dulin says this is standard, anytime there's an incident like a house fire or a car crash.

“If we feel the kind of structural stability poses a risk to the public, then we have a few different courses of action,” Dulin said. “When it’s to an entire structure, we sometimes do an emergency demolition. But, we try to save as much of the structure as possible.”

In the case of Hudson's home, this meant an emergency demolition of just what remained of the porch overhang. Today, you can still see the stripped wood from where the top of the porch connected to the house.

Dulin says decisions like these are made in the name of safety.

“Really it’s about minimizing the danger that the public may face if they come into contact with that, or if it collapsed any further,” he said.

What followed for Hudson was a bill from the city, viewed by WCBU. The bill, with an invoice date of November 2022, shows a total of nearly $3,670 for the demolition. Hudson says she's a single mother and prioritizing bills for necessities meant she didn't have home insurance at the time.

“I didn’t realize how much of a priority it was, because I was like ‘well, I gotta pay, you know, my electric, my water, I have to pay all these other things,’” she said. “Now I have it, because I’m like ‘oh shoot, I’ll never go through that again.’ But it’s kind of, a little too late, one of those lessons you have to learn the hard way.”

Dulin explains that, in the case of using a contractor for an emergency demolition like this, it is standard for the bill to go to the property owner.

“That’s where they go through their homeowner’s insurance or sometimes it’s a civil matter between who caused the dispute to find who’s ultimately responsible for the bill,” he said. “But, as far as we’re concerned, with where the damage was done and the property where the work occurred is where we submit the bill to start with.”

Hudson surveys what remains of the porch now. The greenery in front of the house has grown back, but the large chunk taken out of a corner remains.
Tim Shelley
/
WCBU
Hudson surveys what remains of the porch now. The greenery in front of the house has grown back, but the large chunk taken out of a corner remains.

Hudson reached out to a few different places for help. She contacted the Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity, reached out to her City Council representative and explored neighborhood redevelopment programs through the city.

Programs were either too broad or too limited to assist in her very specific situation.

3rd District Council Representative Tim Riggenbach was contacted by WCBU for this story, he referred back to Community Development.

Hudson explored legal action against the drunk driver with private attorneys, but isn't sure the driver has any income of their own.

In the meantime, fees have piled on the bill.

“They’ve sent us multiple bills regarding the situation instead of just sending it, and I understand it’s like the city, but send it to her,” Hudson said. “Like, she’s the one that did it. Like, I don’t understand why it’s my responsibility. But I guess I’m the homeowner, so I guess I understand that.”

A more recent bill viewed by WCBU totals almost $5,000. It was also sent by a collections agency, which city officials tell WCBU is an automatic process.

Almost two years later, Hudson has now been encouraged to reach out to the city's legal department directly. She says she intends to follow up with them and explore options to get the situation resolved.

This story includes reporting by Tim Shelley.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.